Baird v. State Bar of Arizona - 401 U.S. 1 (1971)


U.S. Supreme Court

Baird v. State Bar of Arizona, 401 U.S. 1 (1971)

Baird v. State Bar of Arizona

No. 15

Argued December 9, 1969

Reargued October 14, 1970

Decided February 23, 1971

401 U.S. 1

Syllabus

Petitioner, who had passed the Arizona written bar examination, listed all the organizations to which she belonged since age 16 on the Bar Committee questionnaire, but refused to answer the question (No. 27) whether she had ever been a member of the Communist Party or any organization "that advocates overthrow of the United States Government by force or violence." The committee declined to process her application further or recommend her admission to the bar. The Arizona Supreme Court denied her petition for an order to show cause why she should not be admitted to practice law.

Held: The judgment of the Arizona Supreme Court is reversed and the case is remanded. Pp. 401 U. S. 5-10.

Reversed and remanded.

MR. JUSTICE BLACK, joined by MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, and MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL concluded that views and beliefs are immune from bar committee inquisitions designed to lay a foundation for barring an applicant from the practice of law, which is a matter of right for one qualified by learning and moral character. Pp. 401 U. S. 5-8.

(a) A State's power to inquire about a person's beliefs or associations is limited by the First Amendment, which prohibits a State from excluding a person from a profession solely because of membership in a political organization or because of his beliefs. Pp 401 U. S. 5-6.

Page 401 U. S. 2

(b) While Arizona has a legitimate interest in determining whether petitioner's character and professional competence qualify her to practice law, petitioner has supplied the Bar Committee with extensive personal and professional information to assist its determination. Pp. 401 U. S. 6-7.

MR. JUSTICE STEWART concluded that Question 27 is constitutionally infirm under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as it is not confined to knowing membership in any organization that advocates violent overthrow of the Government, and it is an inquiry into the proscribed area of political beliefs. Pp. 401 U. S. 9-10.

BLACK, J., announced the Court's judgment and delivered an opinion, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, and MARSHALL, JJ., joined. STEWART, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 401 U. S. 9. HARLAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 401 U. S. 34. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 401 U. S. 10. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., and HARLAN and WHITE, JJ., joined, post, p. 401 U. S. 11.



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