By Timothy Sandefur
April 22, 2019

As part of our effort to defend the constitutional rights of attorneys who don’t want to be forced to support bar associations, the Goldwater Institute filed a petition recently asking the Arizona bar to eliminate its mandatory membership requirement. 

While the state can require lawyers to pass a bar exam, and regulate what they do in order to protect clients from incompetent or dishonest lawyers, it shouldn’t be allowed to force lawyers to join an organization that often takes political positions they disagree with. We’ve made the same argument in lawsuits challenging mandatory bar associations in Oregon, Oklahoma, and of course in North Dakota. We’ve also asked Texas to separate its regulatory powers from its non-regulatory bar association, and make the latter voluntary. That’s what Nebraska did in 2013, and what California did just last year. There’s no reason the state can’t regulate the practice of law in a way that respects the rights of lawyers while still ensuring high standards of legal practice.

On Thursday, April 25 at 6 PM (MST) in Phoenix, I’ll be discussing the petition and our many other cases challenging mandatory bars, at a meeting of the Phoenix Federalist Society. Joining me will be John Phelps, the former CEO of the Arizona State Bar, and Justice John Pelander of the Arizona Supreme Court. It should be an interesting and entertaining night, and it’s open to lawyers and non-lawyers alike. Please join us!

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