Two attorneys are suing the State Bar of Wisconsin over the bar dues lawyers must pay to practice in the state.
Adam Jarchow, a former state Representative and attorney in Clear Lake, and Michael Dean, an attorney in Brookfield, filed a lawsuit on Monday against the State Bar of Wisconsin in the Western District of Wisconsin.
Jarchow and Dean allege that having to pay mandatory bar dues violates their rights to freely associate under the First and 14th Amendments. More specifically, they point to last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Mark Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31.
That case overturned a decades-old decision that let states require public employees to pay some fees to unions even though those workers had chosen not to join those unions.
Like the plaintiffs in Janus, Jarchow and Dean contend that Wisconsin Supreme Court rules requiring them to pay dues in effect force them pay for speech that they disagree with.
For example, Jarchow disagrees with the bar’s advocacy on issues such as felons’ voting rights and immigration law, according to the complaint. Dean disagrees with the bar’s speech and advocacy involving unemployment-insurance fraud and the free exercise of religion, according to the complaint.
Jarchow has paid bar dues since 2009 and Dean has paid bar dues for more than 30 years.
Currently, most lawyers pay $258 in mandatory dues each year. The bar also collects another $236 in assessments from the Wisconsin Supreme Court, money that goes to the Office of Lawyer Regulation, Board of Bar Examiners, the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection and the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation.
Jarchow and Dean are asking for a judgment that would declare that the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s rules requiring all practicing lawyer to pay dues violate the First Amendment, enjoin the Bar from collecting and requiring dues and order the bar to refund their dues.
The State Bar of Wisconsin, reached Tuesday, issued a statement saying that it will be consulting legal counsel and will not be making further statements because the matter is in litigation.
Jarchow and Dean are represented by Rick Esenberg of the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty, as well as Andrew Grossman and David Rivkin, attorneys from the Washington D.C. firm Baker & Hostetler.
Similar cases are pending in the 8th Circuit and in the District of Oregon. In those cases, lawyers from North Dakota and Oregon are challenging the mandatory bars in their state.Follow @erikastrebel