In June of 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided a case Janus v Association of State, County and Municipal Employees, giving, on 1st Amendment grounds, to teachers (and all non-unionized members of other professions) freedom not to be forced to pay union fees to unions who use that money in their political activities that non-union members may not support.
Parallel to that, a case was pending in the U.S. Supreme Court from North Dakota where a lawyer challenged mandatory bar fees on the same grounds as teachers did in Janus.
The U.S. Supreme Court did not decide that case at the same time as Janus.
Instead, it first broke up for a 3-months' summer vacation, and then held 8 (!) conferences
discussing the case and the numerous amicus briefs from all walks and ilks before arriving at a decision.
The decision was somewhat cowardly - without a full opinion - but what would one expect from a body deciding a case of, practically, its own power over attorneys, an explosive issue?
Instead of a decision with a full opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court simply granted the petition for certiorari, reversed the decision of the lower court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, affirming the district court decision that denied attorney Arnold Fletch's challenge as to unconstitutionality of the mandatory bar fees under the 1st Amendment.
Note that the decision was relying not on the 1st Amendment directly, but on U.S. Supreme Court's interpretations of it through various cases - even though the U.S. Supreme Court does not have the power of the Supreme Law of the Land, as per the Supremacy Clause, Article VI Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.
And, the decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court on this case - without an opinion, and an incomplete one, at that, just a remand to the 8th Circuit,
was not directly based on the 1st Amendment - but, again, on the court's precedent, which does not have the power of the Supreme Law of the Land, under the U.S. Constitution, Article 6 Section 2.
Why did the U.S. Supreme Court did what it did?
Why, if it took the pain of granting certiorari, it did not issue a full-fledged opinion on the case, but instead cast in down to the 8th Circuit.
Ah, but there is a not-so-subtle game played here.
While TROs by puny district courts - against Trump only - are suddenly deemed "the law of the land" applicable to all jurisdictions, not just jurisdictions of the U.S. District Courts where such decisions are spawned - courts do know about limitations of their authority within their territorial jurisdictions.
And, while granting certiorari, the U.S. Supreme Court (judges) did not want to release lawyers from slavery to finance mandatory bars where, according to one of the U.S. Supreme Court's previous decisions, it was perfectly ok to use the funds forced out of lawyers by the threat of disbarment (and starvation) for any "regulation-related activity" - such as, for lobbying the legislation to raise salaries of judges and provide law clerks/slaves (or more law clerks/slaves) to judges. Self-interest of the judiciary in that particular financial blackmail is self-evident.
So, what the U.S. Supreme Court did is - it dumped the case back to the 8th Circuit which covered just 7 states out of 50,
and not the most valuable/lucrative ones at that for the bar - not California and not Florida (New York is not a mandatory bar jurisdiction).
Note that the last amicus that broke the camel's back was from the Pacific Legal Foundation, a decision to remand was made by the U.S. Supreme Court the same day the motion to file an amicus brief was granted to the Pacific Legal Foundation - which said, among other things, the following:
"The State Bar continues to pursue political ends, works to ensure that objectors get the smallest possible deduction after jumping through the greatest number of hoops to claim it, and engages in financial shenanigans that constantly draw the attention - and ire- of the state auditor. Many attorneys have abundant reasons to resent subsidizing and associating with the government's mandatory bar association".
But, it is not just the "government's bar association". It is actually a "court's corporation", a corporation of the judge's own profession incorporated by judges into the body of their own court, into the body of the government - no other profession in the United States was given that particular favor by the regulator.
We do not have corporations of taxi drivers incorporated into the government, into the Taxi Medallion Commissions or Mayor's offices, do we?
Association of regulated hair dressers, jockeys, landscape designers, fortune tellers incorporated into the Governors' offices, the tops of the government branches regulating them.
But, somehow, lawyers' corporations (to which regulating judges belong, regulating themselves, their own licenses to practice law) ended up incorporated right into the top of the judicial branch in every state having a mandatory bar.
How that happened is a long and sordid story not taught in law schools - and for a good reason.
As much as law schools try to do two diametrically opposite things - sharpen the minds of future young lawyers while at the same time attempting to dumb them down as to the true aspects of regulation of their own livelihood, if facts are presented bluntly to the young law students, regulation of attorneys - crumbling already, as the case Fletch v Wheck amply demonstrates - will not be sustainable for a much longer time.
There are too many inconsistencies in that particular regulation in the law, too many glaring conflicts with the U.S. Constitution that the thus-regulated profession is supposed to uphold and protect.
For that reason, it is better not to "stir the pot", not to call a spade and spade and to let the sleeping dogs lie.
With the only difference that the dogs are not longer sleeping and are contesting the status quo - both from within (attorneys) and from without (cast out attorneys and members of the public, consumers of attorney services), and are doing it more and more vigorously.
So, the U.S. Supreme Court - acknowledging the writing on the wall by actually accepting the petition for certiorari and reversing the decision of the 8th Circuit - still "was not ready" to "make the law", as it freely does for the entire country, as it did in Janus, or, back in 2015, in the area of same sex marriage.
No doubt, in response to its own largest lobbyists, the most powerful mandatory bars - California as one of them - the court delayed the disintegration of mandatory bars and the undermining of the power of the top courts in the respective states by directly jeopardizing only 7 of them, and the least significant ones. The sacrificial lambs were only the top state courts of the states of:
Remember, Fletch is not Trump, and, in his case, the decision of even a federal appellate court will not have a country-wide application, as are the temporary decisions of lower district courts against Trump.
But, cowardly as the decision is, it is an admission, in and of itself, that what the way the "self-presumed-honorable" profession that also gave themselves a gift of immunity from corruption, as part of its presumed honor (judges) regulates its broader base and source, lawyers, is far from honorable and is based entirely on financial compulsion.
The supposedly neutral government regulator subverted regulators of members of a learned profession whose duty is to get access to court for the American public, including to challenge the government (including the regulator itself) if the government violates people's rights - is using its power not to do its job, but
- to secure financial resources from the regulated group for lobbying its own interests;
- to keep the regulated group scared of the loss of their right to earn a living, in exchange of a monopoly to practice what the regulator cannot define ("the practice of law") - in order to
- sing praises to the regulator; and
- not dare to criticize the regulator - not dare to inform the voters, in fact, of the unfitness of the regulator to be elected or appointed to its super-powerful position.
And, that breach of armor - very likely, considering tendencies in the legal market, globalization and robotization of consulting and legal services - may way be the chink in the eggshell that will soon leave the whole nest-egg of judicial power over the attorney and public access to court where it should be, in shambles.
And, it will be long overdue.