On Thursday, the State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to oppose Senate Bill 743, which would change the mandatory status of the State Bar. In a letter to the chief justice, the State Bar asked the Michigan Supreme Court to undertake a review of the questions posed by the bill. The letter, signed by State Bar President Brian Einhorn and Executive Director Janet Welch, says that the questions about the operation of the State Bar as a mandatory organization 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. It asks the 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. From the letter:
We value the reputation the State Bar has established as a national leader in pursuing these purposes for nearly eight decades. 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.