It’s fun to see lawyers and courts suddenly waking up to discover that they have been chronically violating the same laws many private employers have struggled under for years, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act or “ADA”.
As the American Bar Association Journal (ABA) reported, many state bar associations, under the supervision of their respective state supreme courts, have regularly inquired about the mental health history of applicants for admission to their state’s bar thinking that an applicant could suffer from a psychological or psychiatric impairment that might make them unfit to work as a lawyer. Last year the Department of Justice notified both the Vermont and Louisiana Supreme Courts that their bar application questions concerning mental health history violate the ADA. The ABA Journal story is here.
Actually, in 2014 the Louisiana Supreme Court entered into a written settlement agreement with the Department of Justice agreeing to revise the questions it asks applicants about their mental health history. That agreement is here.
The Justice Department has now also notified the Florida Supreme Court that its questions to bar applicants concerning their mental health and medical history may violate the ADA as the ABA Journal reported here.
Of course, unlike a private employer who is the object of a similar investigation, none of the players in this comedy will reach into their own pocket to pay a lawyer to defend them or to pay a settlement or judgment, nor will they find that their business and livelihood is jeopardized. Unscathed and unbowed, they will no doubt continue to insist that everyone should know the law or face the consequences which they will impose without inhibition.