Freedom not to Associate with the Bar Association

In Crowe v. OR State Bar, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part Oregon District Judge Michael H. Simon’s 2019 dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims that they ought not to be required to be members of the Oregon State Bar to practice law in Oregon. This is an interesting case for occupational licensing.

The part that got affirmed was the plaintiff’s freedom of speech claim. The per curiam opinion didn’t buy the argument that communications by the Oregon State Bar that the plaintiffs disagreed with violated their freedom of speech.

The part that got reversed was the Oregon District Court’s claim that required membership did not violate the plaintiff’s freedom of association. The Ninth Circuit says it did.

But Daniel Crowe and Lawrence Peterson’s case is not over. The Ninth Circuit remanded the case back to the Oregon District Court. We’ll have to wait and see how that gets handled. These plaintiffs filed their case back in December 13, 2018, and the steady process of judicial review might produce a landmark ruling for the right to work similarly to Janus v. AFSCME.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.