Copyright (c) 2001 The Regents of the University of California
UCLA Law Review
ARTICLE: THE CHARACTER OF THE QUESTIONS AND THE FITNESS OF THE PROCESS: MENTAL HEALTH, BAR ADMISSIONS AND THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
49 UCLA L. Rev. 93
In the 1950s, George Anastaplo was denied admission to the Illinois Bar when he refused to answer questions about whether he had ever been affiliated with the Communist Party or other subversive organizations. In his closing remarks to the character and fitness committee, he spoke about why lawyers, and society, should care about the kinds of questions posed to bar applicants:
To the extent I have not submitted, to that extent have I contributed to the solution of one of the most pressing problems that you, as men devoted to character and fitness, must face. This is the problem of selecting the standards and methods the bar must employ if it is to help preserve and nourish that idealism, that vital interest in the problem of justice, that so often lies at the heart of the intelligent and sensitive law student's choice of career. 1
Questions about political affiliation have become a thing of the past, but in the past few decades bar admission authorities have made inquiries into treatment for mental disorders and substance abuse a routine component of the character screening faced by bar applicants. These questions have generated intense controversy since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. 2 Although very few applicants are denied admission on mental health grounds, 3 opponents of mental health questions by bar admission authorities have pointed to real and serious harms that are inflicted by these inquiries: the humiliation felt by applicants who are forced ...
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