Protect The 1st Asks SCOTUS to Recognize First Amendment & Allow Americans to Decline to Fund Mandatory Speech
Does the Constitution allow Americans to be forced to subsidize ideological or political speech they disagree with? In a brief filed in the Supreme Court Friday in a case called Crowe v. Oregon State Bar, Protect The 1st argued that it does not.
The facts of the case involved attorneys forced by their mandatory bar association to fund the propagation of a variety of politically charged ideas that several Oregon attorneys did not want to push. These attorneys are not alone. Currently, attorneys in 31 states and the District of Columbia are compelled to finance mandatory bar organizations and, in the process, their speech. In its brief, Protect The First wrote:
“This puts attorneys in these states in an impossible dilemma; they must decide between ‘betraying their own convictions’ and earning a living by practicing law … Such a choice is no choice at all.”
It would be a mistake, however, to consider this a case solely about the rights of attorneys. As often happens, Crowe asks the Court to articulate the proper First Amendment standard for compelled speech. And it isn’t difficult to identify other areas where that standard, properly articulated, could have real-world implications for groups much more sympathetic than attorneys. Public universities, for example, often charge students mandatory activity fees, which then fund a variety of campus clubs furthering a variety of different goals. Any standard articulated in Crowe could have implications for them, too.
“This case is just one illustration of the broader problem of governments giving seemingly private members organizations, like labor unions, the power to force members to support political speech with which some members disagree,” said Gene Schaerr, general counsel of Protect The 1st. “The Court should recognize that mandatory political speech violates the First Amendment unless it can satisfy some heightened form of First Amendment scrutiny. We hope the Court will take the case.”