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Freedom of Association History



People often ask how the "right to associate" can be interpreted into allowing a private association to operate outside the jurisdiction of public watchdog authorities.  The right to associate and conduct business or economic activity, in any field of human interest, means that we can form associations to talk about healing, financial, policital, legal, dentistry, or any other field of interest as we choose.


When we associate with other members of our private association, we can discuss the particular field of interest such as for example, holistic medicine, and we can allow the trustee to demonstrate his/her skills and proficiency in utilizing their knowledge to help the other members of the association improve their health.  No one has a right to stop the private members and no one has the right to discover who are the members.  And, the trustee can charge special assessment fees for providing certain services/benefits to the members. 


We are often asked what gives the trustee the right to charge for member services; the answer is simple.  It's not against the law to set up a business and charge for products and services rendered in the public domain.  Therefore, why would it be against the law in the private domain?  It's simply not against the law to conduct econonomic activitly/business (see Thomas v. Collins).












An attempt to harass or discipline a licensed health practitioner for his association activities could immediately be countered with a civil suit to enjoin the board from taking action against the practitioner

“Effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones, is undeniably enhanced by group association, as this Court has more than once recognized by remarking upon the close nexus between the freedoms of speech and assembly...It is beyond debate that freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of “liberty” assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which embraces freedom of speech.” – Justice John Marshall Harlan, NAACP v. Alabama (1958)

“The Constitution does not expressly provide for a right of association.  Gradually, however, the First Amendment and the “liberty” interest secured by the Fourteenth Amendment have been interpreted to protect a person’s right to associate with others who share similar ideas, interests, and goals.  Self-government is more than Self.  In many ways, America is a nation of joiners.  Americans band together to seek friendship, cooperation, and concerted action.


“Associational rights were heavily litigated throughout the 1940s and 1950s, usually involving a person’s membership in the Communist party or in organizations considered subversive to the national interest.  For a time, these memberships were punished by the government.” – Louis Fisher, American Constitutional Law. p. 537. McGraw-Hill, 1990

“...we hold simply that groups which themselves are neither engaged in subversive or other illegal or improper activities nor demonstrated to have any substantial connections with such activities are to be protected in their rights of free and private association.” – Justice Arthur Goldberg, Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigative Committee (1963)

“Implicit in the term “national defense” is the notion of defending those values and ideals which set this Nation apart.  For almost two centuries, our country has taken singular pride in the democratic ideals enshrined in its Constitution, and the most cherished of those ideals have found expression in the First Amendment.  It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties—the freedom of association—which makes the defense of the Nation worthwhile.” – Chief Justice Earl Warren, United States v. Robel (1967)

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