Many people don’t know that the First Amendment protects not only the right to speak but also the right not to speak — and the right not to be forced to pay for some else’s speech. Unfortunately, myself and other practicing lawyers in the state of Louisiana are having these First Amendment rights violated.
That’s why I have decided to file a complaint in the Eastern District of Louisiana over the constitutionality of Louisiana’s rules that force lawyers to join and pay dues to the Louisiana State Bar Association to practice their profession.
The LSBA doesn’t just regulate lawyers to ensure that those in need of legal services are getting ethical and competent representation, as one might expect. Instead of acting as a state regulatory body, the LSBA is really more like a trade association.
Trade associations advocate in the community and State Capitol on behalf of their members and interests. The First Amendment protects people’s rights to join these groups, but there is normally a choice involved before joining. As a Louisiana attorney, I was forced to choose between joining the LSBA or not practicing in the state.
Since joining the LSBA, I have paid thousands of dollars in dues. This wouldn’t be an issue, if the money I am forced to pay to the LSBA wasn’t being used to advocate against principles and causes I believe in deeply.
It is routine for the LSBA to spend tens of thousands of dollars lobbying for all types of issues at the State Capitol. These aren’t issues simply related to the practice of law either. These are policy issues affecting everyone in the state that also draw all sorts of opinions. I didn’t consent for the LSBA to speak for me on the death penalty, the right to bear arms and many other issues, yet they continue to advocate for legislation that runs contrary to my beliefs. If I refuse to allow my money to be used to support causes I oppose, I lose a career I’ve worked very hard to earn.
This is not only wrong, it’s un-American. I filed this complaint because I believe that rights to both freedom of speech and freedom of association are being violated.
For too long, the LSBA has claimed to speak for me, while using my money to do it. I will no longer be silent about mine or my fellow lawyers’ Constitutional rights.