Court, although he admitted his odds of success are
not very good.
Said bar attorney Dina Goldman, Were happy the court
resolved the matter in our favor and happy this long-standing litigation is resolved.
Although the Supreme Court did not address First Amendment concerns
in the Warden decision, the appeals panel concluded that the high court implicitly
rejected such a challenge by finding that the MCLE requirements are rationally
related to the needs of the legal profession and to consumer protection.
The justices rejected Greenbergs argument that classes in
elimination of bias, substance abuse and stress reduction amount to compulsory
While we recognize appellants desire to avoid exposure to
what they perceive to be a well-intentioned, but sometimes patronizing, condescending, and
inept educational agenda, Stevens wrote, we also recognize that a majority of
the members of our Supreme Court voted in Warden to impose the requirements of the State
Bars MCLE program of continuing legal education classes on the vast majority of
Californias practicing lawyers. We are bound by that ruling.
The classes targeted by Greenberg as violations of the First
Amendment are in fact germane and rationally related to the practice of law
and to consumer protection, the panel found. Passive exposure to those classes does not
force attorneys to accept any political agendas, the justices said.
In fact, Stevens wrote, the prevention of substance abuse and
emotional illness or stress among lawyers would, if accomplished, constitute a worthy
endeavor, which could spare clients from the obvious harms attendant on substance abuse or
emotional illness among lawyers representing members of the public.
Further, the elimination of bias in representation and decision
making, where improperly based on irrelevant personal characteristics, has long been a
goal of the legal profession and is germane and rationally related to the special nature
of law practice and the consumer protection goals of the MCLE program.
Stevens was joined by Justices Barbara Jones and Paul Haerle. Haerle
was a member of the panel that issued the Warden decision throwing out the MCLE program on
equal protection grounds.
He partially dissented, arguing that instead of abolishing the entire
MCLE program, the exemptions for retired judges, law professors and elected state
officials should be eliminated.