BISMARCK-Appeals judges rejected a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Bismarck lawyer who argued his First Amendment rights were violated because of mandatory dues he had to pay the State Bar Association of North Dakota for political activity he did not support.
The lawsuit, filed by the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, argued that attorneys should be allowed to opt in to political spending by the bar association, an option provided by 18 states.
The 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the arguments. Fleck, a self-employed lawyer, objected to the bar association's $50,000 contribution to a political action committee opposing a shared parenting time and responsibility bill in 2014.
"The First Amendment requires people to be allowed to voluntarily opt in to political speech, but in North Dakota-a state in which bar association membership is required to practice law-attorneys are being duped into funding the bar's political activity," Jim Manley, a senior attorney at the Goldwater Institute, said in a statement issued Thursday, Aug. 17.
"States should stick to the task of regulating the practice of law," Manley added, "not propping up special interest groups to undermine the First Amendment."