Appeal Next in Fight to End Compulsory Bar Association Dues

Feb 12, 2020

Credit U.S. Army

A New Orleans lawyer is heading to a federal appeals court with his claim that Louisiana lawyers are unconstitutionally required to join and pay dues to the state bar association.

Randy Boudreaux’s lawsuit is one of several around the country challenging compulsory membership and dues obligations to state bar associations.

Boudreaux’s claim was rejected in January by a federal judge in New Orleans who cited Supreme Court precedent upholding such arrangements. Boudreaux filed a notice of appeal this week with the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

His success may hinge on one of the other similar cases being pursued around the country by conservative organizations such as the Goldwater Institute.

Jacob Huebert, an attorney with Goldwater, said Tuesday that the institute has cases pending Oregon, Oklahoma and North Dakota.

He said backers of the North Dakota case have gone to the Supreme Court after losing at the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He’s expecting the high court to decide whether to hear the case in March.

Hoping that the Supreme Court will revisit the issue, opponents of compulsory bar association membership and dues have pointed to the court’s 2018 ruling that said government workers can’t be forced to contribute to labor unions.

Boudreaux’s lawsuit claims that mandatory Louisiana State Bar Association membership violates freedom of speech and freedom of association rights. It also claims the bar association sometimes takes positions on issues that some attorneys disagree with. It cited the association’s past support for a moratorium on the death penalty and a resolution supporting elimination of a “free enterprise” course requirement for high school students.