The South Carolina Bar is a unified Bar in which membership is compelled by state law as a condition of practicing law in the state. Annual license fees are used to finance activities reasonably intended to effectuate the following purposes of the South Carolina Bar set forth in Section 1.2 of Article I of the Bar's Constitution:
The purposes of the Bar shall be to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of South Carolina; to protect, and maintain respect for, representative government; to continually improve the administration of justice throughout the State; to require the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct, and uphold the integrity and honor of the legal profession; to advance the science of jurisprudence; to promote consistent high quality of legal education and legal services to the public; to apply the knowledge, experience and ability of the legal profession to the promotion of the public good; to encourage goodwill and respect for integrity and excellence in public service among the members of the legal profession and the public; to perform any additional purposes and duties as may be assigned to it by the Supreme Court of South Carolina; to promote and correlate such policies and activities as fall within these purposes in the interest of the legal profession and the public.
Under Keller v. State Bar of California, the South Carolina Bar cannot use the license fees of objecting members for political or ideological activities that are not reasonably related to the regulation of the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services. The South Carolina Bar does not believe it engages in any activity, including political or ideological activities, not germane to the regulation of the legal profession or the improvement of the quality of legal services.
Section 6.6 of South Carolina Bar Constitution requires the Bar to publish, on an annual basis, the amount expended from unrestricted funds to support legislative policies and file briefs, independently verified by a certified public accountant. That amount must be used to determine the pro rata amount of a member's license fee expended for those activities in the same proportion as the license fees are across membership categories.
While the Bar believes its expenditures comply with Keller, and does not engage in non-germane activity, the Bar treats the entire amount of any expenditures on government relations, briefing, or legislative positions as potentially subject to challenge under the process set forth in Section 6.6 of the Bar Constitution.
The Bar has determined the amount spent on governmental affairs, briefing or legislative positions was 2.57% of the overall unrestricted revenue received by the Bar in Fiscal Year 2020-2021. 97.43% of unrestricted revenue received by the Bar in Fiscal Year 2020-2021 was spent on other Bar programs and expenses or retained as savings.
See Section 6.6 of the South Carolina Bar Constitution.