Lathrop v. Donohue

PETITIONER: Lathrop
RESPONDENT: Donohue
LOCATION: Eagle Coffee Shoppe

DOCKET NO.: 200
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 367 US 820 (1961)
ARGUED: Jan 18, 1961
DECIDED: Jun 19, 1961

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Lathrop v. Donohue

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 18, 1961 (Part 2) in Lathrop v. Donohue

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 18, 1961 (Part 1) in Lathrop v. Donohue

Earl Warren:

Number 200, Trayton L. Lathrop, Appellant, versus Josephine D. Donohue.

Mr. Lathrop.

Trayton L. Lathrop:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This is an appeal from the judgment of the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin which was entered on April 5, 1960.

This action involves the validity of rules of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin which requires that persons, who practice law in the State of Wisconsin, join, belong to and support an association of attorneys known as the State Bar of Wisconsin.

Rules were adopted in the latter part of 1956 for a temporary period of two years.

At the end of 1958, they were continued in effect, indefinitely.

This action was commenced in June of 1959 to recover from the treasurer of the association, dues which were paid to him under protest.

It’s contended that the rules violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

There was a demurrer to the complaint.

The Circuit Court sustained the demurrer and dismissed the action without leave to plead over.

The -- upon appeal to the Supreme Court, that Court held that the rules do not violate the Fourteenth Amendment and affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court.

The jurisdiction of this Court is invoked under Section 1257 (2) of title 28 of the United States Code.

The appellee asserts that there is no jurisdiction under said section on the ground that the rules of the Wisconsin Supreme Court do not constitute a statute under that section.

This Court has repeatedly held over a period of more than 75 years that the word statute, as it's used, touched in the appellate jurisdiction of this -- this Court, covers all acts of a legislature -- legislative nature to which the -- the Court -- which the State gives its sanction and enforces.

For example, it is stated that a city ordinance constitutes a statute, that a rule of Board of Regents of the University governing the conduct of students constitutes a statute, that a constitutional provision constitutes a statute.

The -- the appellee asserts however that we have only a judicial act here.

It is submitted what the appellee is -- is saying that is because of the nature of the body which creates the act that it is judicial rather than the nature of the act itself.

We submit that it is the nature of the act which controls legislative powers defined as the power to make laws and laws defined as the aggregate of those rules and principles of conduct which the governing body recognizes as those which are enforcing sanctions.

So it is respectfully submitted that the rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin do constitute a statute.

We further state that Wisconsin Supreme Court itself, states that they are part of the police power, is exercised pursuant to the police power and they're exercised pursuant to the policy making functions of the Court, and not pursuant to a -- an adjudicatory function of the Court.

He was attended by the -- I should say that the argument is going to be divided between Mr. Isaksen and myself.

Mr. Isaksen, will address himself to the free speech question and I will address myself to the question of freedom of association.

Hugo L. Black:

I didn’t understand the divisions.

Trayton L. Lathrop:

Mr. Isaksen will address himself to the free -- free speech question and I will cover the question of freedom of association, Your Honor.

It was intended by the Wisconsin Supreme Court that the Integrated Bar Association be a continuation of the previously existing voluntary Wisconsin Bar Association.

That attention has been accomplished.

The Integrated Bar started out with the same general officers, the same executive director, the same property, the same files, the same magazine.

The Court rules provided that the integrated association shall elect their delegates to the American Bar Association previously elected by the voluntary association.

Court rules provided that the integrated association shall elect the members of the state judicial council which were previously elected by the voluntary association.