The State Bar of Arizona is weighing whether to require new lawyers to swear they won't let their views on someone's sexual orientation affect their duty, a move foes said could force attorneys to represent clients whose view they find personally offensive.
Existing rules require an oath saying lawyers "will not permit considerations of gender, race, age, nationality, disability or social standing to influence my duty of care." The plan being weighed by the Bar's board adds sexual orientation to that list.
Not signing the new oath, if it is adopted, is not an option: Attorneys cannot practice law in Arizona without being admitted to the Bar.
The move has provoked severe objections from 31 attorneys who sent a letter to state Bar President Ed Novak.
Tim Casey, one of those who is unhappy with the proposal, said it raises all sorts of issues. Casey, who is Catholic, said the language of the oath is so broad that it could require an attorney to accept a case that goes against his or her moral beliefs.
But Novak said the oath would simply spell out that attorneys who take on clients keep their personal views about homosexuality to themselves.