WFB: The Supreme Court declined to take up a First Amendment challenge on Monday to the so-called integrated bar, which requires attorneys in 30 states to join a bar association and pay fees as a condition of practicing law.
The petitioners, Adam Jarchow and Michael Dean, are lawyers in Wisconsin who object to joining and supporting the state bar association. They say the Wisconsin bar promotes political positions with which they disagree, such as support for felon voting rights.
“The state bar is among the most active and powerful political-advocacy organizations in Wisconsin, forcefully engaging in legislative and policy debates within the state and entering political debates on seemingly every hot-button issue under the sun,” their appeal reads. A coalition of conservative and libertarian legal groups like the Cato Institute and the Pacific Legal Foundation filed briefs urging the Court to hear the case.
The case is one of several petitions pending before the justices that follow the 2018 decision that struck down mandatory government union dues on First Amendment grounds. The plaintiffs in these petitions say the logic of that ruling, Janus v. AFSCME, should be applied to similar contexts involving compulsory bar association fees or compelled union representation in collective bargaining. Probing the relationship between free speech and economic or social policy—from campaign spending to abortion—is becoming a defining feature of the current Supreme Court. In dissent in the Janus decision, Justice Elena Kagan accused the conservative majority of “turning the First Amendment into a sword” to attack everything from workaday economic policy to regulations on pro-life crisis pregnancy centers.
The Court did not give reasons for turning down Monday’s case, as is typical of such orders. Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch, dissented from the Court’s refusal to take up the dispute. read more