Does bar requirement bar free speech?

Monday, April 19, 2021
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

law booksA Utah attorney doesn't think lawyers should be required to fund a trade association and its political speech in order to practice law.

In order to practice law in the state of Utah, Amy Pomeroy is required to join and pay annual fees to the Utah State Bar. But because those fees are often used to pay for activities she does not support, she has teamed up with the Goldwater Institute to challenge the requirement.

"In 30 states, attorneys are required to join and pay dues to a bar association to be allowed to practice law, and these bar associations don't just make sure lawyers behave ethically or are qualified or things like that," says attorney Jacob Huebert of the Goldwater Institute. "They're not government-regulatory agencies, rather trade associations for the legal profession. And the things they do often include lobbying and engaging in advocacy on legal and political issues."

That, says Huebert, is a problem under the First Amendment.

"People are forced to join these organizations and give them money," he explains. "It's not right that you should be required to fund a trade association and its political speech just to be allowed to do a job, but that's what's happening in Utah and in a majority of states across the country."

Huebert

The lawsuit is filed in the United States District Court for the District of Utah. Huebert expects a hearing later this year. 

One News Now is seeking comment from Utah Bar Association.

Meanwhile, Huebert says people should pay attention to this case regardless of where they work and live.

"Under the First Amendment, everyone should have the right to choose what groups they'll join and what political speech they'll support with their money," he continues. "If the government can make one group join an organization and pay for political speech they disagree with, they might then seek to do that to other groups."

So the Goldwater Institute is trying to see to it that everyone has the right to choose what speech they will and will not support.

"The government shouldn't force you to endorse certain political ideas just to be allowed to do a certain job," Huebert reiterates.

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