State Bar opposes Senate Bill 743

 The State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to oppose Senate Bill 743 in a teleconference meeting on Feb. 6. The bill, calling for voluntary membership in the State Bar of Michigan, was introduced on Jan. 23 by state Senator Arlan Meekhof.


SBM President Brian Einhorn and Executive Director Janet Welch informed Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. and his fellow justices of this decision in a letter sent to the court on Feb. 6. The letter says that SB 743 raises questions about the operation of the State Bar as a mandatory organization that are most appropriately addressed within the judicial branch of government, pursuant to the Supreme Court’s exclusive constitutional authority to establish practice and procedure for the state’s legal system under Michigan Constitution Article VI, Section 5. The State Bar asks the Michigan Supreme Court to initiate a review of how the State Bar of Michigan operates within the framework of the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling in Keller v State Bar of California. 

The rules of the Michigan Supreme Court direct the State Bar of Michigan to aid in promoting improvements in the administration of justice and advancements in jurisprudence, in improving relations between the legal profession and the public and in promoting the interests of the legal profession in Michigan. 

“We value the reputation the State Bar has established as a national leader in pursuing these purposes for nearly eight decades,” said Einhorn and Welch in the letter.

“We know that our continued effectiveness depends on the confidence of this Court and our membership in our adherence to our core mission and to the constitutional boundaries defined by the Keller decision and the Michigan Supreme Court. Our decision-making in carrying out our duties to our members and the public is grounded in such adherence, and we believe that a structured conversation on this subject undertaken under the auspices of the Supreme Court will fully address the questions raised by SB 743. We hope that the Supreme Court review will strengthen and clarify the capacity of the State Bar to fulfill its mission in the decades to come.”  

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