The Supreme Court, resolving a controversy over admission to the D.C. Bar, ruled yesterday that lower federal courts have no authority to interfere with individual decisions of local and state courts denying people the right to practice law.
The decision closes off the most promising route of appeal for unsuccessful applicants for bar admission.
The case was important to state courts and the D.C. courts, which said that allowing federal court review of bar actions would intrude on their autonomy.
Yesterday's case stemmed from a D.C. rule making graduation from an accredited law school a condition for admission to the bar. Marc Feldman and Edward J. Hickey Jr., who could not meet that test, sought a waiver of the rule, citing legal training that they said qualified them to practice in Washington.
The D.C. Court of Appeals turned them down. At issue yesterday was the authority of the U.S. District Court to review those rejections. The Supreme Court ruled that the court could not.
Hickey and Feldman also challenged the constitutionality of the rule excluding them from the bar. Justice William J. Brennan Jr., writing for the court, said the U.S. District Court could hear that part of the challenge.