Constitutional Challenges to the State Bar


State Bar of Michigan: Taylor v. Barnes, No. 19-cv-00670 (W.D. Mich.)

Latest update: Plaintiff files appeal

Background 

  • The State Bar of Michigan (SBM) was created in 1935 by Public Act 58 , as an integrated bar charged with the responsibility to aid in promoting improvements in the administration of justice and advancements in jurisprudence, in improving relations between the legal profession and the public, and in promoting the interests of the legal profession in Michigan. Although SBM is a governmental entity, it is not funded by taxpayer dollars, but operates primarily from license fees approved by the Michigan Supreme Court. The integrated bar structure is also used in 31 other states. The remaining states charge attorneys regulatory license fees but do not grant lawyers a role in the regulatory process.
     
  • On August 22, 2019, Lucille Taylor, a member of the State Bar of Michigan, filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Michigan, claiming that the state’s decision to integrate the state bar and require attorneys to pay licensing fees to the state bar as a condition of practicing law violates her First Amendment rights in light of a recent United States Supreme Court case involving labor union, Janus v. AFSCME, 138 S. Ct. 2448 (2018).
     
  • This lawsuit followed 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 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.
     
  • On September 8, 2020, the Western District of Michigan granted summary judgment in favor of the State Bar of Michigan in Taylor v Barnes, explaining that the issues raised by Ms. Taylor have been “squarely decided” by the United States Supreme Court.

Timeline

August 22, 2019: Plaintiff filed complaint
May 15, 2020: Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment
June 15, 2020: Defendants filed a cross-motion for summary judgment and response to plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment
July 13, 2020: Plaintiff filed a reply to motion for summary judgment and response to cross-motion for summary judgment
July 27, 2020: Defendants filed a reply to their cross-motion for summary judgment
September 8, 2020: The court issued an order, granting defendants’ motion for summary judgment
October 6, 2020: Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals