This article was originally published on abajournal.com
Updated: A federal appeals court has ruled for a Louisiana lawyer who alleged that the mandatory state bar association violated his First Amendment rights by spending dues money on speech that is not germane to regulating lawyers or improving legal services.
The Louisiana State Bar Association veered from its “constitutionally prescribed lane” when it posted wellness advice, linked to an article on student-loan debt and posted a rainbow flag, said the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans in a Nov. 13 opinion.
“We are chary of any theory of germaneness,” the 5th Circuit said, “that turns a mandatory bar association into a mandatory news mouthpiece.”
The appeals court ruled for lawyer Randy Boudreaux, who first sued when the Louisiana State Bar Association was adopting positions on pending bills in the state legislature, many of which regulated the public at large, rather than the legal profession.
The state bar suspended its legislative activities after the 5th Circuit ruled in July 2021 that the mandatory bar in Texas violated lawyers’ First Amendment rights because of lobbying activities. At the same time, the 5th Circuit ruled that Boudreaux could sue the mandatory bar in his state.