Mandatory Bar Association dues for political activity may go the way of similar union dues – away

Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion | 12/3/2018 | William A. Jacobson
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In Fleck v. Wetsh, review by the Supreme Court was sought of an 8th Circuit decision denying a challenge to North Dakota’s mandatory Bar Association dues, some of which went to political activities not directly related to Bar membership.

Note that this has nothing to do with licensing of attorney, as such. Rather, a majority of states require that in addition to registering with the state licensing authority (often the state Supreme Court), bar members also must register with the private Bar Associations. That’s the way it is in Rhode Island, I’m required to pay my annual dues both to the state Supreme Court and separately to the Rhode Island Bar Association.

Problem - Membership - Bar - Associations - Forms

The problem with this forced membership is that Bar Associations frequently engage in various forms of political activity.

This is a problem which the Supreme Court addressed in the union dues context in Janus v. AFSME. We wrote in June 2018 regarding the Janus ruling:

Supreme - Court - Victory - Speech - Janus

The Supreme Court handed another victory to free speech with Janus vs. AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees). In a 5-4 decision, the justices determined government unions cannot require non-members to pay union dues.

A quick history of the case: Mark Janus worked as a child support specialist for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. He was not a member of the union but was required to pay “fair share” dues. The state of Illinois took $50 from his paycheck to cover the cost of the union dues.

Janus - Dues - Speech - Rights - Positions

Janus argued that these dues “violate his free speech rights because he disagrees with many positions taken by AFSCME and that everything the public employee union does is inherently political.”

Justice Samuel Alito wrote “that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”

The...
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