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Boudreaux v. Louisiana State Bar Association

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 13, 2020

RANDY BOUDREAUX
v.
LOUISIANA STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, ET AL.

          ORDER & REASONS

          LANCE M. AFRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are defendants' motions to dismiss plaintiff Randy Boudreaux's (“Boudreaux”) complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, defendants' motions are granted in part as set forth herein.

         I.

         On August 1, 2019, Boudreaux filed a complaint against the Louisiana State Bar Association (“LSBA”), the Louisiana Supreme Court, and its seven Justices, Bernette J. Johnson, Scott J. Crichton, James T. Genovese, Marcus R. Clark, Jefferson D. Hughes, III, John L. Weimer, and “John Doe, ” the individual who will succeed the Honorable Greg Guidry as an Associate Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court from Louisiana's First Judicial District (collectively, the “defendants”).[1] All of the Justices are sued in their official capacities.[2]

         Boudreaux is a licensed attorney in the State of Louisiana and a member of the LSBA.[3] Pursuant to Louisiana law, Boudreaux must remain a member of the LSBA and pay annual dues in order to continue practicing law in the State of Louisiana.[4] See La. R.S. § 37:211, § 37:213; La. R. Prof. Cond. § 1.1(c).

         Boudreaux opposes the laws, rules, and regulations that compel him to associate with the LSBA and pay mandatory dues, as well as the LSBA's use of his mandatory dues “to fund any amount of political or ideological speech, regardless of its viewpoint[.]”[5] Boudreaux also contends that the LSBA has insufficient safeguards “to ensure that members are not required to pay for political and ideological speech and other activities not germane to regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services[.]”[6]

         Boudreaux asserts three claims against defendants. Boudreaux's first claim alleges that compelled membership in the LSBA violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free association and free speech.[7] Boudreaux's second claim alleges that the collection and use of mandatory bar dues to subsidize the LSBA's speech, including its political and ideological speech, violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free association and free speech, and is not necessary to regulate the legal profession or improve the quality of legal services in Louisiana.[8] Boudreaux's third claim alleges that the LSBA violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to provide adequate safeguards to ensure mandatory dues are not used for impermissible activities, i.e., activities that do not serve the purpose of improving the quality of legal services through the regulation of the legal profession, without providing members with advance notice.[9]

         Boudreaux seeks relief under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988, and the United States Constitution.[10] Boudreaux asks this Court to declare the LSBA's membership and annual dues requirements unconstitutional and enjoin defendants from enforcing La. R.S. §§ 37:211, [11] 37:213, [12] and Rule 1.1(c) of the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct, [13] which mandate these requirements.[14] Boudreaux seeks, in the alternative, a declaration that the LSBA's safeguards are inadequate under Keller v. State Bar of California to ensure that LSBA members have notice that their dues will be spent on speech that is nongermane to regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services, [15] and that such inadequacy violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association.[16]Boudreaux seeks in connection with this alternative relief an injunction enjoining defendants from collecting mandatory bar dues until the LSBA implements the minimum safeguards required by Keller.[17]

         Defendants filed motions to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1)[18] and 12(b)(6), [19]which Boudreaux opposes.[20]

         II.

         A.

         In Act 54 of 1940, the Louisiana state legislature issued a memorial to the state supreme court directing it to exercise its inherent powers to create the LSBA, impose a mandatory membership requirement, and provide a schedule of membership dues, the non-payment of which would be grounds for suspension from the practice of law. Lewis v. Louisiana State Bar Ass'n, 792 F.2d 493, 495 (5th Cir. 1986); In re Mundy, 202 La. 41, 11 So.2d 398 (1942). Pursuant to this memorial, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued an order stating:

The Louisiana State Bar Association is hereby organized under the rule-making power of the Court. The rules and regulations which shall govern it as an agency of the Court are [the Articles of Incorporation].

Lewis, 792 F.2d at 495. The LSBA's Articles of Incorporation were subsequently adopted as rules of the Supreme Court. Id.

         The LSBA is an “integrated bar”-i.e., an association of attorneys in which membership and dues are required as a condition of practicing law-created under state law to regulate the state's legal profession.[21] The LSBA's stated purpose is to “regulate the practice of law, advance the science of jurisprudence, promote the administration of justice, uphold the honor of the Courts and of the profession of law, encourage cordial intercourse among its members, and, generally, to promote the welfare of the profession in the State.”[22] The LSBA engages in a number of activities to serve its stated purpose.[23]

         Pursuant to La. R.S. §§ 37:211, 37:213, Louisiana Rule of Professional Conduct § 1.1(c), and the LSBA's Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, [24] Louisiana attorneys must register annually with the LSBA and pay dues to maintain their eligibility to practice law, with certain exceptions.[25] The annual member dues are $80 for members who have been admitted to the LSBA for three years or less, and $200 for members who have been admitted for more than three years.[26] Mandatory member dues fund the LSBA.[27]

         The LSBA issues delinquency notices to members who fail to register within thirty days of receiving the LSBA's annual registration statement or are in default of payment.[28] A member has thirty days from receipt of a delinquency notice to register or pay outstanding dues before the LSBA Treasurer certifies to the Louisiana Supreme Court that he or she is ineligible to practice law.[29]

         The Supreme Court is responsible for enforcing the LSBA membership and dues requirements and does so through the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board.[30] Lawyers who fail to register or pay annual dues may be disbarred and prohibited from practicing law in the State of Louisiana.[31]

         B.

         The LSBA advises the Louisiana legislature of its positions on pending legislation through its Legislation Committee. Pursuant to the LSBA's Bylaws:

The Legislation Committee's activities with respect to recommending consideration or adoption of a legislative position by the Association may include matters involving issues affecting the profession, the regulation of attorneys and the practice of law, the administration of justice, the availability and delivery of legal services to society, the improvement of the courts and the legal profession, and such other matters consistent with the mission and purposes of the Association. The Committee shall not involve itself in legislation which is ideological in nature, unrelated to the practice of law, or which is unnecessarily divisive.

         Bylaws, art. XI, § I.

         The LSBA's Bylaws set forth criteria to assist the Legislation Committee in connection with any recommendation to the LSBA that the committee may be considering relating to LSBA involvement, priorities, and implementation of legislative positions.[32] These factors include the position of the Legislation Committee relative to the “[i]mportance to the Bar, the legal profession, the administration of justice and to society as a whole, ” “[e]xpectations of the public, legislators, and members of the profession regarding the Bar's role in the particular issue involved, ” the level of support for the position within the profession, the “[l]ikelihood of success within the legislative process, ” whether the expertise of lawyers is uniquely helpful to understanding the issue, the currency of the issue, the image of the profession, the importance of the position to the practice of law, and the opportunity for impact.[33]

         Recommendations for positions on pending legislation from the Legislation Committee must be presented to the Board of Governors, which can disapprove a position by a vote of at least seventy-five percent of the Board's members present and voting at the meeting.[34] Members are advised of the LSBA's legislative positions via timely publication “in at least one of [the LSBA's] regular communications vehicles” and by electronic notice.[35]

         Boudreaux alleges that the Legislation Committee has taken positions on more than 407 bills considered by the Louisiana legislature since 2007.[36] Boudreaux further asserts that the Legislation Committee lobbied in Baton Rouge against certain legal reform efforts, such as reducing the threshold amount to request a jury in civil matters, requiring judges to file financial statements with the Board of Ethics, and allowing school professionals with training and concealed carry permits to carry weapons in schools.[37]

         A member of the LSBA who “objects to the use of any portion of the member's bar dues for activities he or she considers promotes or opposes political or ideological causes” may file an objection with the Executive Director of the LSBA.[38] After a written objection has been received, the Executive Director must promptly determine the pro rata amount of the objecting member's membership dues devoted to the challenged activity, and place such amount in escrow pending the Board of Governors' determination of the merits of the objection.[39] Within sixty days, the Board of Governors will either give a pro rata refund to the objecting member or refer the action to arbitration.[40] Boudreaux does not allege that he has ever utilized the LSBA's dues refund procedure to object to legislative positions with which he disagrees.

         Boudreaux notes that according to the LSBA's dues notice, three percent of membership dues are devoted to “government relations” and not deductible as a business expense for federal income tax purposes.[41] Boudreaux also highlights that the LSBA does not inform its members “whether any past expenditures of member dues on ‘government relations' were germane to the purpose of improving the quality of legal services and regulating the legal profession.”[42]

         A June 2019 resolution from the LSBA's House of Delegates suspended the Legislation Committee and all related activities until the January 2020 House of Delegates meeting.[43]

         III. Rule 12(b)(1) Motion

         The Court must first consider whether it has subject matter jurisdiction over Boudreaux's claims before reaching the merits of such claims. Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), “[a] case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case.” Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). “The burden of proof for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss is on the party asserting jurisdiction.” Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001). “When a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is filed in conjunction with other Rule 12 motions, the court should consider the Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional attack before addressing any attack on the merits.” Id.

         When applying Rule 12(b)(1), a court may dismiss an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction “on any one of three separate bases: (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts.” Spotts v. United States, 613 F.3d 559, 565-66 (5th Cir. 2010).

         When subject matter jurisdiction is challenged, the Court first considers whether the defendant has made a “facial” or a “factual” attack upon the complaint. Paterson v. Weinberger, 644 F.2d 521, 523 (5th Cir. 1981). “A motion to dismiss for lack of standing is factual rather than facial if the defendant submits affidavits, testimony, or other evidentiary materials.” Superior MRI Servs., Inc. v. Alliance Healthcare Servs., Inc., 778 F.3d 502, 504 (5th Cir. 2015). When a defendant makes a factual attack on the complaint, the plaintiff is “required to submit facts through some evidentiary method and has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the trial court does have subject matter jurisdiction.” Paterson, 644 F.2d at 523. In the case of a facial attack, the court “is required to look to the sufficiency of the allegations in the complaint because they are presumed to be true.” Id. “Ultimately, a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction should be granted only if it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle plaintiff to relief.” Ramming, 281 F.3d at 161 (quoting Home Builders Ass'n, 143 F.3d at 1010).

         A. Tax Injunction Act

         Defendants argue that the Tax Injunction Act (the “TIA”) precludes the Court from exercising jurisdiction over Boudreaux's claims.[44] Under the TIA, a district court lacks jurisdiction over any action that would “enjoin, suspend or restrain the assessment, levy or collection of any tax under State law where a plain, speedy and efficient remedy may be had in the courts of such State.” 28 U.S.C. § 1341.

         The TIA “imposes drastic limitations on the federal judiciary's ability to meddle with a local concern as important and sensitive as the collection of taxes.” Home Builders, 143 F.3d at 1010 (citing Rosewell v. LaSalle Nat'l Bank, 450 U.S. 503, 522 (1981)). Congress designed the TIA “expressly to restrict the jurisdiction of the district courts of the United States over suits relating to the collection of State taxes.” Hibbs v. Winn, 542 U.S. 88, 104 (2004); see also United Gas Pipe Line Co. v. Whitman, 595 F.2d 323, 326 (5th Cir. 1979) (explaining that federal courts have interpreted the TIA as “a broad jurisdictional impediment to federal court interference with the administration of state tax systems” rather than as a “narrow statute aimed only at injunctive interference with tax collection”).

         i.

         The Fifth Circuit employs a bifurcated analysis to determine whether the TIA bars federal jurisdiction:

First, [it must be determined] . . . whether the law in question imposes a tax or merely a regulatory fee. Only if the law imposes a tax does the act preclude a federal district court from exercising jurisdiction. Second, even if the law imposes a tax for purposes of the Tax Injunction Act, a district court may decline to exercise jurisdiction only if the state court is equipped to furnish the plaintiffs with a plain, speedy, and efficient remedy. That is, the act does not divest district courts of jurisdiction if state court remedies are inadequate.

Home Builders, 143 F.3d at 1010 (citations omitted).

         The Court's initial inquiry, therefore, is whether the LSBA's mandatory dues constitute a “tax” for purposes of the TIA. Boudreaux argues that the LSBA's mandatory dues are a “classic fee” and not a tax because they are not designed to increase the state's general revenue, but rather are a part of the state's regulatory scheme for the legal profession.[45] Defendants argue that the mandatory dues are a license tax, and assert that both the Louisiana Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit have previously held that bar association dues are state license taxes.[46]

         “What constitutes a ‘tax' for purposes of the Tax Injunction Act is a question of federal law.” Id. at 1010 n.10 (citation omitted). “The label affixed to an ordinance by its drafters has no bearing on the resolution of the question.” Id. (citation omitted). However, federal courts may consider the state supreme court's characterization of the payment at issue. Lipscomb v. Columbus Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 269 F.3d 494, 500 n.13 (5th Cir. 2001). The Fifth Circuit provides several characteristics that differentiate a tax from a regulatory fee:

[T]he classic tax sustains the essential flow of revenue to the government, while the classic fee is linked to some regulatory scheme. The classic tax is imposed by a state or municipal legislature, while the classic fee is imposed by an agency upon those it regulates. The classic tax is designed to provide a benefit for the entire community, while the classic fee is designed to raise money to help defray an agency's regulatory expenses.

Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc., 143 F.3d at 1011 (collecting cases); see also Neinast v. Texas, 217 F.3d 275, 278 (5th Cir. 2000) (“The classic fee is imposed (1) by an agency, not the legislature; (2) upon those it regulates, not the community as a whole; and (3) for the purpose of defraying regulatory costs, not simply for general revenue-raising purposes.”) (citation omitted).

         ii.

         Turning to the first factor, as numbered in Neinast, the Louisiana state legislature enacted the LSBA's mandatory dues requirement. Although the LSBA sets the rate at which members must pay dues, its authority to do so derives from the state legislature. As stated previously, the Louisiana state legislature issued a memorial to the Louisiana Supreme Court to create a bar association and impose mandatory dues. See In re Mundy, 202 La. 41, 11 So.2d 398 (1942) (holding that bar association dues are state license taxes levied by the express authority of the Louisiana state legislature in Act 54 of 1940). Furthermore, the Fifth Circuit does not view the LSBA as a state agency, but rather as an individual agent of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Lewis, 792 F.2d at 497 n.4. In connection with the first factor, the Court also considers the state supreme court's characterization of the dues as taxes. In re Mundy, 202 La. 41, 11 So.2d 398 (1942). Accordingly, this factor weighs in favor of a finding that the dues are a tax.

         Turning to the second factor, only LSBA members, the people whom the LSBA regulates, must pay dues, rather than the public at large. This factor favors a finding that LSBA dues are a fee. See Neinast, 217 F.3d at 278 (holding that because the charge was imposed only on a narrow class of persons-disabled people wanting a handicapped placard-the second factor suggested that the charge was a fee).

         The third factor, whether the purpose of LSBA dues are for general revenue raising purposes to provide a benefit for the entire community, or rather only to raise money to defray the LSBA's regulatory expenses, is significant. Stated differently, the critical question is the ultimate use of the funds or purpose of the assessment. See Neinast, 217 F.3d at 278; Henderson v. Stalder, 407 F.3d 351, 357-58 (5th Cir. 2005); Valero Terrestrial Corp. v. Caffrey, 205 F.3d 130, 134 (4th Cir. 2000) (holding that when the charge appears to fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between tax and fee, the most important factor becomes the purpose behind the statute or regulation which imposes the charge).

         Fifth Circuit decisions analyzing the third factor provide guidance. In Home Builders, the Fifth Circuit held that an “impact fee ordinance” that required developers and builders in new residential areas to pay a fee for each planned residential dwelling unit was a tax because it was “designed to protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare of an entire community[.]” 143 F.3d at 1012. Pursuant to the preamble of the ordinance that imposed the assessment, its purpose was to ensure that developers and builders would pay their fair share of providing and maintaining essential municipal services, including streets, fire and police departments, and parks and recreation. Id. at 1009.

         By contrast, in Neinast, the Fifth Circuit held that a state's $5.00 charge per handicapped placard was a fee because the state code mandated that such charges be deposited into the state highway fund to help defray the cost of providing the disabled parking placards. 217 F.3d at 278. That is, the state legislature did not impose the fee for general revenue-raising purposes-funds that would benefit the public at large-but rather for the specific purpose of funding the handicapped placards themselves.

         In Henderson, the court found that Louisiana's specialty license plate registration fees were taxes. 407 F.3d at 357. The court reasoned that because the fees “exceed[ed] the ordinary motor vehicle registration fees . . . and an additional handling charge[, ] they [were] not tied to vehicle regulation as such.” Id. Pursuant to the Louisiana statutes implementing the charges, such charges would be used for a number of purposes ranging from park development to university education to adoption support. Id. at 358. These purposes provided a benefit to the public at large and were not “regulatory” as to the specialty plate purchasers. Id.; see also American Council of Life Insurers v. District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority, 815 F.3d 17, 19 (D.C. Cir. 2016) (noting that the key question is “whether a charge raises revenue merely to cover the cost of offering a service to the payers of the fee (including financing regulatory systems applicable to them), or whether it also raises revenue for purposes that aren't especially beneficial or useful to the payers”).

         The court in Henderson also noted that charges that are imposed to control certain activities, not to raise revenue, are more likely to be fees than taxes. See Henderson, 407 F.3d at 356 (citing Hager v. City of West Peoria, 84 F.3d 865, 871 (7th Cir. 1996) (holding that graduated fees on the weight of truckloads had been legislated to discourage heavy trucks from using a particular road and thus “were passed to control certain activities, not to raise revenue”)).

         Mandatory bar dues are imposed to fund the LSBA, that is, to defray the LSBA's costs-which seems to suggest that LSBA dues are fees. Neinast, 217 F.3d at 278. However, the LSBA's purpose, and thus the purpose of collecting dues, encompasses more than the regulation of attorneys, cf. id., or the control of certain behavior, cf. Hager, 84 F.3d at 871.[47] Importantly, attorneys, the group of people who must pay the tax and whom the LSBA regulates, are not the only people who benefit from the LSBA's purpose and activities. Henderson, 407 F.3d at 358; American Council, 815 F.3d at 19. Rather, the public at large benefits from key aspects of the LSBA's stated purpose-promoting the administration of justice, advancing the science of jurisprudence, and upholding the honor of Louisiana state courts. See Jackson v. Leake, 476 F.Supp.2d 515, 522 (E.D. N.C. 2006), aff'd, 524 F.3d 427 (4th Cir. 2008) (holding that surcharges imposed on attorneys to fund the North Carolina Public Campaign Financing Fund were a tax, because the purpose of the Public Campaign Financing Fund benefitted the public at large, namely, to promote fair judicial elections and the impartiality of the state court system).

         The LSBA engages in a number of activities that serve the entire community, rather than just licensed Louisiana attorneys. These activities include maintaining “sections, ” related to different areas of law, devoted to “the improvement of professional knowledge and skill, and in the interest of the profession and the performance of its public obligations”[48]; providing a mediation and arbitration service for the amicable resolution of disputes between clients and lawyers; and sponsoring a client assistance program for clients wronged by a lawyer who have no remedy.[49]

         Accordingly, having balanced all factors, the Court concludes that LSBA dues must be characterized as taxes for purposes of the TIA. See Livingston v. North Carolina State Bar, 364 F.Supp.3d 587, 594 (E.D. N.C. 2019) (holding that bar dues are taxes under the TIA).[50]

         iii.

         Although LSBA dues are considered taxes for purposes of the TIA, the Court may only decline to exercise jurisdiction if Louisiana state courts are equipped to furnish Boudreaux with a plain, speedy, and efficient remedy. Home Builders, 143 F.3d at 1010. Boudreaux does not challenge the adequacy or availability of a remedy in Louisiana state court, but the Court will nevertheless briefly address why such remedies are adequate.

As the Fifth Circuit explained in Home Builders:
State courts are equipped to furnish a plain, speedy, and efficient remedy if they provide a procedural vehicle that affords taxpayers the opportunity to raise their federal constitutional claims. That is, a state's remedy is adequate when it provides taxpayers with a complete judicial determination that is ultimately reviewable in the United States Supreme Court. Importantly, though, the state remedy need not be the best of all remedies. It need only be adequate.

Id. at 1012 (citations and quotation omitted).

         As a preliminary matter, the fact that Boudreaux challenges the constitutionality of the LSBA's imposition of mandatory dues to practice law does not overcome the jurisdictional bar created by the TIA, so long as Louisiana state courts offer Boudreaux an adequate remedy. See Bland v. McHann, 463 F.2d 21, 26-27 (5th Cir. 1972). “Taxpayers challenging a state tax must bring their claims in state court and seek review of claims of unconstitutionality under the United States Constitution by writ to the United States Supreme Court.” Robert J. Caluda, APLC v. City of New Orleans, 403 F.Supp.3d 522, 533 (E.D. La. 2019) (Morgan, J.) (citing Bland, 463 F.2d at 24).

         Louisiana law provides a legal remedy to plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of a state tax in state court, as well as the ability to seek declaratory relief. La. R.S. § 47:1576(D); La. Code Civ. P. arts. 1871-72. These statutes provide taxpayers with complete judicial determinations that are ultimately reviewable in the United States Supreme Court. See ANR Pipeline Co. v. La. Tax Com'n, 646 F.3d 940, 947-48 (5th Cir. 2011). Therefore, Louisiana state court affords Boudreaux a plain, speedy, and efficient remedy.

         iv.

         The TIA divests this Court of subject matter jurisdiction, though only as to Boudreaux's second claim, i.e., challenging the constitutionality of the collection of mandatory bar association dues. Boudreaux's second claim seeks to enjoin the collection of state taxes, that is, LSBA dues.[51] Such a restraint on the collection of state taxes is the classic remedy that the TIA bars federal courts from providing when the state courts are equipped to furnish the plaintiff with a plain, speedy, and efficient remedy. Henderson, 407 F.3d at 359 (concluding that the TIA applies only where the “state taxpayers seek federal court orders enabling them to avoid paying state taxes”) (internal quotations and emphasis omitted); 28 U.S.C. § 1341.

         Defendants do not argue that the TIA similarly precludes jurisdiction over Boudreaux's first and third claims, [52] but the Court will briefly address why it retains jurisdiction over such claims.

         The TIA precludes federal court jurisdiction only when the “primary purpose” of the lawsuit is to restrain the collection of taxes. Muhammad v. United States, No. 05-0812, 2005 WL 2001145, at *2 (E.D. La. July 15, 2005) (Lemmon, J.) (citing Linn v. Chivatero, 714 F.2d 1278, 1282 (5th Cir. 1983)); Pendleton v. Heard, 824 F.2d 448, 451-52 (5th Cir. 1987). If the purpose of the suit has only an incidental connection to taxation, the TIA does not apply. Peddleton, 824 F.2d at 452 (citing Linn, 714 F.2d at 1282).

         In Peddleton, plaintiffs challenged the county board of supervisors' practices of withdrawing notices of bond issues each time a protest was filed, rather than holding an election as required by state law, and noticing five separate bond issues in different districts instead of noticing a single bond issue county-wide. Id. at 451. Both challenges were brought pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Id. The Fifth Circuit held that the TIA did not divest federal courts of jurisdiction because plaintiffs were not challenging the bond issues themselves, but rather the obstruction of their right to vote on those bond issues. Id. Plaintiffs asserted that the board's practices created new voting practices or procedures which violated the Voting Rights Act, and thus sought to vindicate voting rights, not to impede the levy, assessment, or collection of state taxes. Id.

         In connection with his first claim, Boudreaux seeks an injunction permanently enjoining defendants from enforcing the Louisiana statutes, rules, and regulations that compel membership in the LSBA. The primary purpose of Boudreaux's first claim is to challenge the constitutionality of mandatory association in the LSBA, not the imposition of LSBA dues. Boudreaux's first claim, if successful, would only enjoin defendants from compelling membership in the LSBA, not from collecting taxes. Any effect on the collection of LSBA dues would merely be incidental to Boudreaux's first claim. See Linn, 714 F.2d at 1282 (holding that the Anti-Injunction Act, which precludes federal courts from exercising jurisdiction to enjoin the collection of a federal tax, did not apply because the purpose of the suit was the recovery of unlawfully seized property, with only an incidental connection to taxation); Pendleton, 824 F.2d at 450. Thus, the primary purpose of Boudreaux's first claim is not to restrain the collection of taxes and it is not barred by the TIA.

         In connection with his third claim, Boudreaux seeks an injunction permanently enjoining defendants from collecting mandatory bar dues until the LSBA adopts the minimum safeguards required by Keller. The primary purpose of Boudreaux's third claim is to challenge the adequacy of the LSBA's Keller procedures-not to restrain the collection of taxes. Similar to the plaintiffs' claims in Peddleton, Boudreaux's third claim challenges not the taxes themselves, but rather the manner in which LSBA members may exercise their rights to object to the expenditures of such taxes. 824 F.2d at 451. Although Boudreaux's third claim, if successful, would enjoin the collection of LSBA dues, such restraint on the collection of taxes would be incidental to the claim's primary purpose and extend only until the LSBA's Keller procedures met minimum constitutional standards. Accordingly, the primary purpose of Boudreaux's third claim is not to restrain the collection of taxes and it is not barred by the TIA.

         B. Principles of Comity

         Defendants argue that principles of comity preclude federal court jurisdiction over all of Boudreaux's claims, including those to which the TIA does not apply.[53] The Court will only consider defendants' argument as it pertains to Boudreaux's first and third claims, as the Court is precluded from exercising jurisdiction over Boudreaux's second claim pursuant to the TIA. “Under this doctrine, federal courts refrain from ‘interfer[ing] . . . with the fiscal operations of the state governments . . . in all cases where the Federal rights of the persons could otherwise be preserved unimpaired.'” Direct Marketing Ass'n v. Brohl, 575 U.S. 1, 15 (2015) (citing Levin v. Commerce Energy, Inc., 560 U.S. 413, 422 (2010) (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         In Levin, the Supreme Court held that the comity doctrine is more expansive than the TIA. 560 U.S. at 417. The case involved a suit brought in federal court by natural gas marketers against the Ohio state tax commissioner challenging the constitutionality of three exemptions offered to their competitors only. Id. at 418. Although the TIA did not apply, the Supreme Court noted nevertheless that “[c]omity's constraint has particular force when lower federal courts are asked to pass on the constitutionality of state taxation of commercial activity.” Id. at 421. The Court reasoned that “the Ohio courts are better positioned than their federal counterparts to correct any [constitutional] violation” because “when unlawful discrimination infects tax classifications or other legislative prescriptions, the Constitution simply calls for equal treatment.” Id. at 426, 431-32 (emphasis in original). Thus, if the Ohio taxation scheme was unconstitutional, “surely the Ohio courts [were] better positioned to determine-unless and until the Ohio Legislature weigh[ed] in-how to comply with the mandate of equal treatment.” Id. at 429 (citation omitted).

         The Court was unclear about just how expansive the doctrine is, and in precisely what kinds of tax cases it is most pressing. See Normand v. Cox Communications, LLC, 848 F.Supp.2d 619, 625 (E.D. La. 2012) (Vance, J.). The Court did, however, delineate several factors for federal courts to consider: first, whether the plaintiff seeks federal court review of matters over which the state enjoys wide regulatory latitude, such as commercial matters; second, whether the claimed constitutional violation involves “any fundamental right or classification that attracts heightened judicial scrutiny”; third, whether plaintiffs seek federal court aid “in an endeavor to improve their competitive position”; and fourth, whether the state court is better positioned than its federal counterpart “to correct any violation because they are more familiar with state legislative preferences and because the TIA does not constrain their remedial options.” Levin, 560 U.S. at 431-32 (distinguishing Hibbs, 542 U.S. at 93-94, which held that principles of comity did not bar the action, on the grounds that “state courts would have no greater leeway than federal courts to cure the alleged [constitutional] violation, ” because only one remedy would redress the plaintiffs' grievance in either state or federal court-invalidation of the allegedly unconstitutional tax credit); see also Normand, 848 F.Supp.2d at 625.

         In Normand, the defendant-corporation challenged the applicability of a Louisiana sales tax to its video programming services. 848 F.Supp.2d at 620. The defendant had already pursued one of three available remedies under Louisiana law to challenge its unfavorable tax assessment, and the plaintiff-Parish, having determined that the defendant did not properly invoke the remedy, elected to initiate one of its three remedies under Louisiana law, a summary court proceeding, to enforce and collect sales tax owed. Id. at 620-22. The Parish then filed an action in state court to convert the final assessment into a court judgment executable against the defendant's assets outside of the Parish, and the defendant removed the case to federal court. Id. at 622.

         The federal district court, analyzing each of the factors set forth in Levin, held that principles of comity counselled against exercising jurisdiction over the case, because entertaining such a suit would disrupt Louisiana's detailed framework and streamlined process for adjudicating tax disputes. Id. at 624-27. Moreover, the court reasoned, exercising federal jurisdiction would allow out-of-state defendants to make an “end run around” this framework simply by refusing to pay their taxes, defaulting on their administrative rights, and removing the subsequent collection actions to federal court. Id. at 624. The summary court proceeding afforded to tax collectors under Louisiana law would cease to be an option. Id.

         The first two Levin factors weigh in favor of abstention. Considering the first factor, states generally do enjoy wide regulatory latitude over attorneys licensed to practice law within the state. See Middlesex Cty. Ethics Committee v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432-33 (1982). As to the second factor, Boudreaux's claims do not involve any fundamental right or classification that requires heightened judicial scrutiny. See Levin, 560 U.S. at 431 (abstaining when confronted with equal protection and dormant commerce clause claims); Normand, 848 F.Supp.2d at 625 (abstaining when confronted with a due process claim); Rainbod Trout Farms, Inc. v. Brownback, No. 11-1290, 2012 WL 3879890, at *5 (D. Kan. Sept. 6, 2012) (abstaining when confronted with a First Amendment claim because such a claim would not require heightened judicial scrutiny).

         The third and fourth factors, however, counsel against abstention. Plaintiff is not seeking federal court aid in an endeavor to improve a competitive position or completely foreclose a remedial option provided for by Louisiana law.[54] And, contrary to defendants' argument, unlike the state courts in Levin, Louisiana courts are not better positioned than a federal court to remedy Boudreaux's alleged constitutional violations.[55] Only one remedy would redress Boudreaux's grievances with respect to each claim: as to Boudreaux's first claim, an injunction prohibiting defendants from conditioning the right to practice law on membership in the LSBA and, as to Boudreaux's third claim, an injunction enjoining the LSBA from collecting dues until its Keller procedures satisfied minimum constitutional standards. Levin, 560 U.S. at 431.

         Furthermore, there were other compelling reasons for abstention in Levin and Normand that are not present here. Exercising jurisdiction over Boudreaux's first and third claims and providing Boudreaux relief as to those claims, assuming such claims are successful, would not disrupt or interfere with Louisiana's detailed framework for streamlining and adjudicating tax disputes. Cf. Normand, 848 F.Supp.2d at 624. The Court would not have to pursue the “ambitious solution” of “reshap[ing] the relevant provisions of [the state's] tax code.” Cf. Levin, 560 U.S. at 429. Moreover, Boudreaux's claims do not involve state taxation of commercial activity, and Louisiana state courts are not better positioned than a federal court to determine whether the LSBA's compelled membership requirement and/or the inadequacy of the LSBA's Keller procedures violate Boudreaux's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Cf. Id. at 421, 429.

         For the foregoing reasons, the Court declines to exercise its discretion to abstain from adjudicating Boudreaux's first and third claims based on principles of comity.

         C. ...


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