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Supreme Court of Virginia v. Friedman

Higher Courts' Decisions

In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Friedman filed suit against the Supreme Court of Virginia and the clerk of the court. She claimed that Virginia's residency requirement violated the Privileges and Immunities Clause. The district court ruled in Friedman's favor, and the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed.

In the trial before the district court, the attorney for the Supreme Court of Virginia and its clerk reasoned that the Privileges and Immunities Clause was not violated by the residency requirement of the Virginia rule as long as all applicants were allowed to gain admission to the bar by passing the bar examination. The appellant's next argument was that the residency requirement, together with the full-time practice requirement, was designed to guarantee that a lawyer admitted on motion would be as committed to service and as familiar with Virginia law as an attorney who entered the Virginia bar by examination.

The district court disagreed with the appellant's argument because the Privileges and Immunities Clause was implicated whenever a state did not permit qualified nonresidents to practice law within its borders on terms of substantial equality with its own residents. Moreover, the court reasoned that it was mere speculation that residents would respect their commitments to practice full time in Virginia more than nonresidents. The state, without violating constitutional protections, could also further its interest in having lawyers well-acquainted with legal developments by using other equally effective means, such as the requirement that applicants maintain an office in Virginia. Referring to the two-pronged test used in Supreme Court of New Hampshire v. Piper,the Court concluded that there was not substantial reason for discrimination, nor did the discrimination bear a substantial relationship to the objectives of the state. Subsequently, the lower court's decision was unanimously affirmed by the court of appeals. Dissatisfied with that decision, the Supreme Court of Virginia and its clerk appealed again and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear their case.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988Supreme Court of Virginia v. Friedman - Significance, Higher Courts' Decisions, Higher Courts' Decisions Affirmed, Impact, Privileges And Immunities Clause: Residency Requirements