On March 12, 2015, Steve Eugster commenced an action against the WSBA and some of its officers and against the present justices of the Washington State Supreme Court. The action was filed in United States District Court for the Western District of Washington At Seattle. Case No. 2:15-cv-00375-JLR. The case has been assigned to Judge James L. Robart. Complaint, Amended and Restated.
This action has its genesis in Harris v. Quinn, 134 S. Ct. 2618 (2014) and In re Petition to Create Voluntary State Bar of Nebraska, 286 Neb. 1018, 841 N.W. 2d 167 (Nebr. 2013).
In Harris v. Quinn, Eugster was disabused of his long held notion that compulsory membership in an integrated bar, such as the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA), was not a constitutional infringement of his right of non-association under the First and Fourteen Amendments to the United States Constitution. Justice Alito, writing for the majority in Harris, said the compulsory membership issue had not been presented to the Court and when it was in Lathrop v. Donohue, 367 U.S. 820 (1961) “it produced a plurality opinion and four separate writings.” Harris, 134 S. Ct. at 2629.
In Petition to Create Voluntary State Bar of Nebraska, (found after studying Harris), Eugster learned that a so-called “Keller Deduction” created by the WSBA in response to Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1, 16 (1990) was limited to non-chargeable activities related only to ideological and political activities. Further, in Petition to Create Voluntary State Bar of Nebraska, the Nebraska Supreme Court analyzed cases decided subsequent to Keller and decided that lawyers could not be charged, unless they consented, for bar association activities which were not germane to the purposes for which the bar existed – “regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services.” Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. at 16.