State Bar of Michigan Files Response to MSC Task Force Report
The State Bar of Michigan filed comments on Thursday in response to the Report of the Michigan Supreme Court Task Force on the Role of the State Bar of Michigan. The comments were submitted by the State Bar Board of Commissioners upon the Supreme Court's invitation for public comment on whether the Task Force Report adequately assessed the First Amendment problems concerning required membership in a State Bar association and whether the Task Force Report provided a sufficient blueprint to ensure that the State Bar's ideological activities will not encroach on the First Amendment rights of its members.
The comments from the State Bar responded to all five of the Task Force recommendations, identifying those supported by the State Bar and those with which the State Bar disagrees and offers alternatives:
The State Bar agrees with the Task Force recommendation that the State Bar of Michigan should remain a mandatory State Bar.
The State Bar agrees that State Bar advocacy outside the judicial branch should be subject to a rigorous decision-making process to conform to Keller v. State Bar of California, the constitutional standard for mandatory bar advocacy. In place of the Task Force recommendations, the State Bar offers alternatives that would enhance the current process to further safeguard members' 1st Amendment rights and expand opportunities for dissenting members to communicate their opposing views. The State Bar recommendations are designed to make the proposed strict interpretation of Keller unnecessary.
The State Bar disagrees with the recommendation that the sections of the State Bar that engage in legislative advocacy should do so only through separate entities not identified with the State Bar, stating that any concerns regarding the identification of Sections advocating on legislation can be addressed through means less drastic.
The State Bar agrees with the recommendation that the State Bar's regulatory services should be better integrated with the activities of the other attorney regulatory agencies. It also agrees that the State Bar governance process could benefit from greater clarity and efficiency, but does not agree that State Bar governance should be modified.
The State Bar also supports convening a special commission to study the reduction of inactive dues and to examine active and inactive licensing, pro hac vice, and recertification issues.
The entire 17-page commentary from the State Bar of Michigan to the Michigan Supreme Court is posted on the SBM website and the Michigan Supreme Court website.