Sunday, February 28, 2021

Ninth Circuit Sends Mandatory Bar Membership Question Back to Lower Court

 Long time readers of this blog might remember that I have been following the many lawsuits filed around the country alleging that mandatory membership to state bar associations is unconstitutional. (Go here for my most recent post on the issue, which has links to more posts.)

I am writing about this again today because a few days ago, Courthouse News reported that the Oregon case that had been making its way up the courts has been remanded to the lower federal court for trial. The case raises the issue of whether the Oregon State Bar can require a lawyer to join the State Bar Association, if the lawyer objects to the Association's political commentary.

The case was filed lawyers who objected to commentary published in the Bar Association's newsletter.  When the lawyers objected, the Association refunded $1 and change to the lawyers, arguing that was the amount their membership fees contributed to the publication of the newsletter.  Back in December 2018, the lawyers responded by filing the lawsuit.  

The case was dismissed by the lower court, and on appeal, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit agreed with the dismissal of all of the claims except the one on the basis of the right to free association.  

You can read the opinion here.

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