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Circuit rulings bolster opponents of mandatory attorney bar dues

Two federal appellate courts, in three decisions issued within days of each other, boosted efforts by opponents of mandatory state bars and their dues, and increased the chances of U.S. Supreme Court interest.

Conservative and libertarian legal groups largely have fueled what Judge Don Willett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has dubbed the “bar wars,” or First Amendment challenges to mandatory bar membership and fees in a number of states in the South and the West. But until rulings in the last eight days by the Fifth and Tenth circuits, they appeared to be making little headway in persuading lower courts.

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