Midyear Meeting

Cert Petition Highlights Issues Spurring Bar Independence Resolution

A Supreme Court cert petition highlights the issues that spurred the bar association of Puerto Rico to propose an ABA resolution urging respect for the independence of the organized bar.

The ABA House of Delegates passed Resolution 10A on Monday. It urges courts and legislatures that regulate the legal profession to respect the organized bar’s right to function independently and to express its views freely.

The cert petition (PDF) seeks to challenge a law that bars the Puerto Rico Bar Association from promoting or using any religious or political idea. The Puerto Rico Court of Appeals had found the law didn’t violate the First Amendment because the Puerto Rico Legislature has authority to regulate an entity that it created.

The law was passed in 2009 along with a second statute that eliminated mandatory bar membership in Puerto Rico and made membership voluntary.

According to a report accompanying the resolution, “State, territorial, and local bar associations should be allowed to exercise their rights to express the views of the majority of their members freely and independently, without undue regulation or restrictions by state legislatures, and without the threat of legislative action against them for fulfilling that role.”

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