The Government Justice Center and several public policy centers filed a “friend of the court” brief in Jarchow v. State Bar of Wisconsin before the United States Supreme Court arguing that mandatory bar association fees are unconstitutional.

Mandatory bar associations impose severe burdens on protected speech and association. It is a bedrock First Amendment principle that restrictions on speech or association cannot survive if there are “means significantly less restrictive of associational freedoms” for the government to achieve its asserted interest in improving the legal profession.

The brief highlights that New York — one of twenty non-mandatory states — has thriving voluntary bar associations helping to improve the legal profession. For example, the 70,000 member New York State Bar Association facilitates practice specific committees and groups, develops and proposes improvements to the laws, and provides continuing legal education and ethics guidance to New York lawyers.