If his ballot were mailed today, the state's chief executive most likely would vote "yes" to the plebiscite question on whether the State Bar should be abolished.
"Right now, it's my expectation that I will vote against the mandatory requirement," says Gov. Pete Wilson, who pays $478 in dues every year to remain an active member.
But for those who advocate keeping the State Bar mandatory, the governor does not close the door. He concedes he has not given the plebiscite question much thought and gives the current bar high marks in at least two areas.
"I think the continuing education of the bar has been a real success story," Wilson says. "I think they have done a great deal through that to maintain quality, so that's an argument for it."
And he applauds the bar's response to the U.S. Supreme Court's Keller decision. "There were a number of people who, as members of the mandatory bar, objected strenuously to the use of their bar dues to support political programs with which they were distinctly unsympathetic," he recalls. "Of course, it's been dealt with now."
Discipline, however, is another story. "The disciplinary side is a serious problem," says the governor, noting that he and his 119,738 active-member colleagues are going to have to weigh whether a mandatory bar should continue to discipline lawyers or if a new agency should be created.
"Ordinarily, I am not in favor of creating new agencies," the governor observes, "and frankly that's the major thing that I would look at before deciding (on the plebiscite). I would like to see something that is effective but doesn't require the creation of a new state agency."