Daily Labor Report®

Union Fees Ruling Should Apply to Lawyers’ Bar Dues: Lawsuit

Dec. 14, 2018, 7:14 PM

A conservative legal group wants to use the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling against mandatory union fees to strike down bar association dues being used for political purposes.

Members shouldn’t be required to pay dues that can be used for political activities with which they disagree, according to a complaint filed Dec. 13 by the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix.

The Supreme Court in June ruled that it’s a violation of public employees’ free speech and free association rights to require them to pay fees that are associated with a union bargaining on their behalf.

The high court’s Janus decision means a mandatory association like the Oregon State Bar violates members’ First Amendment rights by using their dues for political speech and advocacy they don’t support, according to the complaint filed on behalf of two Oregon attorneys and an advocacy organization they founded. Attorneys who want to practice in Oregon must join the association and pay dues, they say.

The bar should fund political activities only via fees that members affirmatively opt into, the plaintiffs say. They’re also represented by Military Disability Lawyer, LLC in Salem, Ore.

The Supreme Court earlier this month vacated an appeals court ruling that upheld mandatory bar association dues. It ordered the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to reconsider North Dakota’s requirement in light of its Janus decision.

An Oregon Bar representative didn’t immediately provide a reaction when reached for comment Dec. 14.

The case is Crowe v. Ore. State Bar, D. Or., No. 3:18-cv-02139, complaint filed 12/13/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Steingart in Washington at jsteingart@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

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