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Under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1257(2), the legislative character of challenged state action, rather than the nature of the agency of the state performing the act, is decisive of the question of jurisdiction. It is not necessary that the state legislature itself should have taken the action drawn in question. The jurisdictional provision uses the words "a statute of any state" in their larger sense and is not intended to make a distinction between acts of a state legislature and other exertions of the state's law-making power, but rather to include every act legislative in character to which the state gives its sanction.
Acting in accordance with an Act of the State Legislature, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin promulgated rules and bylaws creating an integrated State Bar and requiring all lawyers practicing in the State to be members thereof and to pay annual dues of $ 15. Appellant paid his dues under protest and sued for a refund, claiming that the State Bar engaged in political activities which he opposed, and that by coercing him to support it, such rules and bylaws violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The State Supreme Court held that compulsory enrollment in the State Bar imposed only the duty to pay dues; sustained the constitutionality of the rules and bylaws; and affirmed a judgment dismissing the complaint.
Was the State Supreme Court’s ruling sustaining the constitutionality of the rules and bylaws proper?
The Supreme Court affirmed the State Supreme Court's order. The court held that the bar rule was a statute for purposes of jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1257(2) because the rule was legislative in nature. Next, the court ruled that the bar rule did not violate the right, under U.S. Const. amend. I, to freely associate. The court found that the bar's activities were not largely political in nature; noting that the activities focused on the post-graduate education of its members, and that the legislative function was not a major activity. The state had a legitimate interest in elevating the standards of attorneys and improving the quality of legal services provided, and that, to advance this interest, the state had a right to require attorneys to shoulder the costs. The court also rejected appellant's free speech argument because no facts supporting the claim were in the record.