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Hale v. Committee on Character and Fitness for the State of Illinois

335 F.3d 678 (2003)

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Hale v. Committee on Character and Fitness for the State of Illinois

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

335 F.3d 678 (2003)

Facts

Matthew Hale (defendant) applied to practice law in Illinois. Hale publicly advocated for white supremacy and for abolishing equal-protection laws. Hale had a few other blemishes on the character-and-fitness portion of his bar application, such as having been arrested several times, but Hale had never been convicted and had not committed any concrete bad actions that would justify disbarment if he were already admitted. The Committee on Character and Fitness for the State of Illinois (the committee) (plaintiff) found that Hale’s active commitment to racism and bigotry was a gross deficiency in Hale’s moral character that made him unfit to take on a lawyer’s responsibility to uphold the rule of law for everyone. Further, the committee found that Hale was not honest and open during the hearing on his bar admission and that Hale would most likely violate the rules of professional conduct at some point. Because it had found that Hale did not have the moral character and fitness to practice law, the committee denied Hale’s bar application. Hale petitioned the Illinois Supreme Court to review that denial, claiming that it was unconstitutional to deny his bar application based solely on his personal viewpoints and the committee’s beliefs about possible future actions. However, without any explanation, the supreme court denied Hale’s request to review the issues. Hale then filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, but that petition was also denied without explanation. Arguing that the constitutional issues had not been fully examined, Hale then filed a lawsuit in federal district court claiming that the denial of his bar application violated his constitutional rights. The federal district court found that the state courts had already adjudicated the issue, preventing the district court from reviewing that same issue, and dismissed the lawsuit. Hale appealed that dismissal to the Seventh Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wood, J.)

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