Bar Admissions and Freedom of Association
The bar admission process has led to First Amendment challenges by applicants who wanted to practice law but were denied because of political associations or beliefs. This is a list of First Amendment-related court rulings related to bar admission.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a First Amendment challenge to a
requirement that attorneys pay dues to a state bar association in Wisconsin
to support programs they disagreed with. Their compelled speech argument in
Jarchow v. State Bar of Wisconsin was rejected by lower courts.
In re Sawyer (1959) reversed a suspension of an attorney who had criticized
the court handling her case. She had argued her speech was protected by the
In In re Stolar (1971), the Court ruled that the First Amendment prohibits
states from penalizing attorneys solely on the basis of membership in a
In re Summers (1945) upheld that denying an attorney’s admission to the bar
because he was a conscientious objector to war did not violate the free
exercise of religion.
In Keller v. State Bar of California (1990), the Court upheld a state bar’s
use of compulsory membership fees if such fees were used to support
“germane” political causes.
Konigsberg v. State Bar (1961) addressed bar applicants’ First Amendment
rights after an applicant refused to answer questions about his Communist
Law Students Civil Rights Research Council v. Wadmond (1971) said a state
bar requirement for attorneys to prove loyalty to the United States did not
violate the First Amendment.
Baird v. State Bar of Arizona (1971) is one of several Supreme Court
rulings that extended greater First Amendment protection to admission to
In In re Anastaplo (1961) the Court held that a plaintiff’s exclusion from
the Illinois state bar did not violate First Amendment freedoms of speech