July 1, 2019 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has dismissed a petition asking the court to transition the State Bar of Wisconsin to a voluntary organization, noting the petition is duplicative of a rule petition that the court dismissed last year.
Former State Bar President Steven Levine, a “longtime opponent of the mandatory bar” who has file numerous lawsuits against the State Bar, filed a similar petition last year that would have created a voluntary organization to conduct activities that were not related to the regulation of the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services.
Levine argued that a new petition was warranted because the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision, in Janus v. AFSCME, which dealt with union dues. But the court noted that an administrative rules petition was not the proper way to address the issue.
“Attorney Levine argues that Janus effectively renders the mandatory dues payments to the State Bar of Wisconsin unconstitutional,” the court said in a final order.
“However, an administrative rules proceeding is not the proper forum in which to effectively request a substantive legal decision regarding the effect, if any, on SCR 10.”
The State Bar of Wisconsin, created by the Supreme Court, is defending a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The lawsuit, filed by two State Bar members, is challenging the constitutionality of the State Bar’s mandatory status. Members can access case details, including motions and briefs, at wisbar.org/lawsuit.