Just as it has in past cases in multiple states, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in File v. Hickey et al, 598 U.S. 22-95, which challenged Wisconsin’s mandatory State Bar. The decision was announced on January 23, 2023.
The plaintiff in File claimed that his free-speech and associational rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution were violated when the State Bar required him to join the State Bar in order to practice law in Wisconsin. He named the State Bar of Wisconsin, its Executive Director, Larry Martin, and all 7 Wisconsin Supreme Court justices as defendants. The U.S. Supreme Court relied on Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1(1990), which holds that mandatory bar associations can use compulsory dues to fund activities “necessarily or reasonably related to the purposes of regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services.”
Under Keller, the State Bar annually calculates that portion of dues that may fall outside the purposes established in Keller. State Bar members then have the option to reduce their dues by that amount. That practice will likely continue in light of this decision.