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Supreme Court declines to take up lawsuit over State Bar’s mandatory dues

Supreme Court declines to take up lawsuit over State Bar’s mandatory dues

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The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up a lawsuit over the State Bar of Wisconsin’s mandatory bar dues.

The court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari on Monday in Adam Jarchow v. State Bar of Wisconsin.

Attorneys Jarchow and Michael Dean challenged the constitutionality of mandatory bar dues. They alleged that their dues are used to pay for “advocacy and other speech on matters of intense public interest and concern.” They said the State Bar has taken a position on legislation prohibiting public-health plans from funding abortions and felon voting rights, among other issues.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition, which upholds states’ ability to collect mandatory bar dues. The State Bar of Wisconsin said it was pleased with the court’s decision.

“The State Bar of Wisconsin has in place a very aggressive review process that ensures members’ First Amendment rights are respected, including a policy that mandatory dues do not support any direct lobbying expenses regardless of subject matter,” a statement from the State Bar said.

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by justice Neil Gorsuch, dissented from Monday’s denial of certiorari. Thomas wrote that he would have granted the certiorari in response to the petitioners’ First Amendment challenge and revisit the court’s decision in Keller v. State Bar of California.

Thomas said the decision in Keller upholding the State Bar’s use of mandatory dues applied the reasoning in a union dues case that was overruled in 2018.

“Our decision to overrule Abood casts significant doubt on Keller,” Thomas wrote. “The opinion in Keller rests almost entirely on the framework of Abood. Now that Abood is no longer good law, there is effectively nothing left supporting our decision in Keller.”

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