LINCOLN — An Omaha state lawmaker has asked that his federal lawsuit against the Nebraska Bar Association be put on hold due to a Nebraska Supreme Court ruling he won last week.
State Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh had filed lawsuits in federal and state courts over the requirement that lawyers join the Bar Association in order to practice law in Nebraska.
Lautenbaugh argued that the organization was taking political stands that were contrary to his views, and that it was a violation of his free-speech rights to be forced to pay dues to the bar.
Last Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that membership in the bar would remain mandatory, but that mandatory dues could be used only for the limited purposes of regulating the legal profession.
The ruling has the effect of lowering attorneys' mandatory annual dues from $335 to $98 for 2014, and leaves uncertain whether lawyers will continue to voluntarily fund other bar association activities such as lobbying the Legislature, linking volunteer lawyers with needy clients, and helping lawyers with substance abuse problems.
In a motion filed Tuesday, lawyers for Lautenbaugh and the bar association asked for a 30-day postponement of their lawsuit in U.S. District Court to fully assess the impact of the ruling. The two sides said they would inform the court jointly by Jan. 15 on how they wish to proceed.
Last week, Michael Fenner, the president of the State Bar Association, said he expected that the state ruling would render the federal lawsuit unnecessary.