Boudreaux v. La. State Bar Ass'n

Decision Date13 January 2020
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION No. 19-11962
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Louisiana

Dane S. Ciolino, Dane S. Ciolino, LLC, Metairie, LA, James Stuart Baehr, New Orleans, LA, Alex J. Peragine, Peragine Law Firm, LLC, Covington, LA, Jacob Huebert, Timothy Sandefur, Pro Hac Vice; Attorney to be Noticed, Phoenix, AZ, for Plaintiff.

Richard C. Stanley, Eva J. Dossier, Kathryn Munson, Stanley, Reuter, Ross, Thornton & Alford, LLC, New Orleans, LA, for Defendant.




Before the Court are defendants' motions to dismiss plaintiff Randy Boudreaux's ("Boudreaux") complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, defendants' motions are granted in part as set forth herein.


On August 1, 2019, Boudreaux filed a complaint against the Louisiana State Bar Association ("LSBA"), the Louisiana Supreme Court, and its seven Justices, Bernette J. Johnson, Scott J. Crichton, James T. Genovese, Marcus R. Clark, Jefferson D. Hughes, III, John L. Weimer, and "John Doe," the individual who will succeed the Honorable Greg Guidry as an Associate Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court from Louisiana's First Judicial District (collectively, the "defendants").1 All of the Justices are sued in their official capacities.2

Boudreaux is a licensed attorney in the State of Louisiana and a member of the LSBA.3 Pursuant to Louisiana law, Boudreaux must remain a member of the LSBA and pay annual dues in order to continue practicing law in the State of Louisiana.4 See La. R.S. § 37:211, § 37:213 ; La. R. Prof. Cond. § 1.1(c).

Boudreaux opposes the laws, rules, and regulations that compel him to associate with the LSBA and pay mandatory dues, as well as the LSBA's use of his mandatory dues "to fund any amount of political or ideological speech, regardless of its viewpoint[.]"5 Boudreaux also contends that the LSBA has insufficient safeguards "to ensure that members are not required to pay for political and ideological speech and other activities not germane to regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services[.]"6

Boudreaux asserts three claims against defendants. Boudreaux's first claim alleges that compelled membership in the LSBA violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free association and free speech.7 Boudreaux's second claim alleges that the collection and use of mandatory bar dues to subsidize the LSBA's speech, including its political and ideological speech, violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free association and free speech, and is not necessary to regulate the legal profession or improve the quality of legal services in Louisiana.8 Boudreaux's third claim alleges that the LSBA violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to provide adequate safeguards to ensure mandatory dues are not used for impermissible activities, i.e., activities that do not serve the purpose of improving the quality of legal services through the regulation of the legal profession, without providing members with advance notice.9

Boudreaux seeks relief under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988, and the United States Constitution.10 Boudreaux asks this Court to declare the LSBA's membership and annual dues requirements unconstitutional and enjoin defendants from enforcing La. R.S. §§ 37:211,11 37:213,12 and Rule 1.1(c) of the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct,13 which mandate these requirements.14 Boudreaux seeks, in the alternative, a declaration that the LSBA's safeguards are inadequate under Keller v. State Bar of California to ensure that LSBA members have notice that their dues will be spent on speech that is nongermane to regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services,15 and that such inadequacy violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association.16 Boudreaux seeks in connection with this alternative relief an injunction enjoining defendants from collecting mandatory bar dues until the LSBA implements the minimum safeguards required by Keller.17

Defendants filed motions to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1)18 and 12(b)(6),19 which Boudreaux opposes.20


In Act 54 of 1940, the Louisiana state legislature issued a memorial to the state supreme court directing it to exercise its inherent powers to create the LSBA, impose a mandatory membership requirement, and provide a schedule of membership dues, the non-payment of which would be grounds for suspension from the practice of law. Lewis v. Louisiana State Bar Ass'n , 792 F.2d 493, 495 (5th Cir. 1986) ; In re Mundy , 202 La. 41, 11 So.2d 398 (1942). Pursuant to this memorial, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued an order stating:

The Louisiana State Bar Association is hereby organized under the rule-making power of the Court. The rules and regulations which shall govern it as an agency of the Court are [the Articles of Incorporation].

Lewis , 792 F.2d at 495. The LSBA's Articles of Incorporation were subsequently adopted as rules of the Supreme Court. Id.

The LSBA is an "integrated bar"—i.e., an association of attorneys in which membership and dues are required as a condition of practicing law—created under state law to regulate the state's legal profession.21 The LSBA's stated purpose is to "regulate the practice of law, advance the science of jurisprudence, promote the administration of justice, uphold the honor of the Courts and of the profession of law, encourage cordial intercourse among its members, and, generally, to promote the welfare of the profession in the State."22 The LSBA engages in a number of activities to serve its stated purpose.23

Pursuant to La. R.S. §§ 37:211, 37:213, Louisiana Rule of Professional Conduct § 1.1(c), and the LSBA's Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws,24 Louisiana attorneys must register annually with the LSBA and pay dues to maintain their eligibility to practice law, with certain exceptions.25 The annual member dues are $80 for members who have been admitted to the LSBA for three years or less, and $200 for members who have been admitted for more than three years.26 Mandatory member dues fund the LSBA.27

The LSBA issues delinquency notices to members who fail to register within thirty days of receiving the LSBA's annual registration statement or are in default of payment.28 A member has thirty days from receipt of a delinquency notice to register or pay outstanding dues before the LSBA Treasurer certifies to the Louisiana Supreme Court that he or she is ineligible to practice law.29

The Supreme Court is responsible for enforcing the LSBA membership and dues requirements and does so through the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board.30 Lawyers who fail to register or pay annual dues may be disbarred and prohibited from practicing law in the State of Louisiana.31


The LSBA advises the Louisiana legislature of its positions on pending legislation through its Legislation Committee. Pursuant to the LSBA's Bylaws:

The Legislation Committee's activities with respect to recommending consideration or adoption of a legislative position by the Association may include matters involving issues affecting the profession, the regulation of attorneys and the practice of law, the administration of justice, the availability and delivery of legal services to society, the improvement of the courts and the legal profession, and such other matters consistent with the mission and purposes of the Association. The Committee shall not involve itself in legislation which is ideological in nature, unrelated to the practice of law, or which is unnecessarily divisive.

Bylaws, art. XI, § I.

The LSBA's Bylaws set forth criteria to assist the Legislation Committee in connection with any recommendation to the LSBA that the committee may be considering relating to LSBA involvement, priorities, and implementation of legislative positions.32 These factors include the position of the Legislation Committee relative to the "[i]mportance to the Bar, the legal profession, the administration of justice and to society as a whole," "[e]xpectations of the public, legislators, and members of the profession regarding the Bar's role in the particular issue involved," the level of support for the position within the profession, the "[l]ikelihood of success within the legislative process," whether the expertise of lawyers is uniquely helpful to understanding the issue, the currency of the issue, the image of the profession, the importance of the position to the practice of law, and the opportunity for impact.33

Recommendations for positions on pending legislation from the Legislation Committee must be presented to the Board of Governors, which can disapprove a position by a vote of at least seventy-five percent of the Board's members present and voting at the meeting.34 Members are advised of the LSBA's legislative positions via timely publication "in at least one of [the LSBA's] regular communications vehicles" and by electronic notice.35

Boudreaux alleges that the Legislation Committee has taken positions on more than 407 bills considered by the Louisiana legislature since 2007.36 Boudreaux further asserts that the Legislation Committee lobbied in Baton Rouge against certain legal reform efforts, such as reducing the threshold amount to request a jury in civil matters, requiring judges to file financial statements with the Board of Ethics, and allowing school professionals with training and concealed carry permits to carry weapons in schools.37

A member of the LSBA who "objects to the use of any portion of the member's bar dues for activities he or she considers promotes or opposes political or ideological causes" may file an objection with the Executive Director of the LSBA.38 After a written objection has been received, the Executive Director must promptly determine the pro...

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