State Bar of Michigan Statement on Federal Lawsuit
August 22, 2019
On August 22, 2019, a lawsuit was filed in the Western District of Michigan claiming that under Janus v. AFSCME, 138 S. Ct. 2448 (2018), the Michigan law requiring state bar membership in order to practice law is unconstitutional. The State Bar of Michigan strictly follows the rules established by the Michigan Supreme Court to protect the First Amendment rights of licensed Michigan lawyers developed in response to controlling U.S. Supreme Court law. We are confident that the State Bar is fulfilling its statutory responsibilities to the public as an instrumentality of the state consistent with the First Amendment and will respond to the pending legal action accordingly.
The lawsuit filed today follows a pattern of lawsuits across the country against integrated state bars which attempt to equate integrated state bars with unions. That analogy is fundamentally wrong. Michigan, along with most other states, has chosen to integrate the bar into the regulation of the profession in order to better serve the public and save taxpayer dollars. The State Bar of Michigan, along with five other integrated bars, submitted an amicus brief in Fleck v. State Bar of North Dakota.
Update: On August 30, 2019, the 8th Circuit affirmed dismissal of Fleck v. State Bar of North Dakota.
Update: On March 9, 2020, the United States Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari in Fleck v. Wetch.