Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts


Jessica Belle


In 2009, Florida became the first U.S. jurisdiction to articulate a Character and Fitness Evaluation (CFE) policy of examining the social media accounts of bar applicants who had demonstrated a history of questionable conduct such as substance abuse or seeking to violently overthrow the U.S. government. This policy may allow access to otherwise legally inaccessible data, which creates a risk of the bar unlawfully considering information protected by applicants’ constitutional rights. Over the past 60 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has split on whether bar organizations may constitutionally deny bar admission to applicants who refuse to answer certain questions on this basis. This Article proposes that bars should publish (1) the types of traits an applicant must demonstrate to succeed on a CFE; (2) the types of conduct that may warrant further inquiry and eventually lead to an unsuccessful CFE; (3) criteria for evaluating suspect conduct; and (4) the types of information gathered on applicants’ social media accounts that may not be considered by the bar.

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