10:33, April 24 65 0 abajournal.com

2018-04-24 10:33:06
Statements by Oregon State Bar and specialty groups draw fire

A statement by the mandatory state bar in Oregon and a second statement by specialty bar groups are drawing criticism from some lawyers who say they are too political.

The bar statement, published in the Oregon State Bar bulletin, is titled “Statement on White Nationalism and Normalization of Violence,” the Oregonian reports. Among those signing the statement are the president and the president-elect of the bar’s board of directors and the bar CEO.

The statement says the bar is committed to a vision of justice that operates free of discrimination, “as the United States continues to grapple with a resurgence of white nationalism and the normalization of violence and racism.” The “current climate of violence, extremism and exclusion gravely threatens” the rule of law, the statement says.

A separate statement by Oregon specialty bar groups, which appears on the adjoining page of the bar bulletin, says President Donald Trump “has himself catered to this white nationalist movement, allowing it to make up the base of his support and providing it a false sense of legitimacy.”

The second statement is attributed to several groups: the Oregon Minority Lawyers Association, the Oregon Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association, the LGBT Bar Association of Oregon, the Oregon Filipino American Lawyers Association, the Oregon chapter of the National Bar Association, and Oregon Women Lawyers.

Some lawyers are saying the bar disregarded the First Amendment rights of its mandatory members by requiring them to subsidize political or ideological activities in violation of the Supreme Court decision Keller v. State Bar of California.

Also objecting to the statement was the Multnomah County Republican Party.

At a meeting of the Oregon bar’s board of Governors on Friday, bar CEO Helen Hierschbiel noted that the board did not formally adopt the statement by the specialty bar groups, according to the Oregonian coverage. She also said publishing the two statements together was “ill-advised and confusing.”

Members who object to the statement are entitled to a partial dues refund, the board decided. The bar bulletin will also run a clarification in the next issue that affirms the state bar statement while noting that the specialty bar group statement was independent.