IN A LETTER printed on this page today, an officer of the State Bar of Texas takes issue with our description of Texas law. He argues that the Texas Supreme Court can regulate the conduct of that state's lawyers, in spite of the fact that a Texas law passed in 1979 says that regulations proposed by the supreme court can't be passed unless they receive approval of 51 percent of all members in a mail poll of state bar membership. Despite the plain language of the law, and despite the fact that state bar officials themselves have acknowledged the 51 percent requirement, the argument runs, the Supreme Court of Texas has the inherent power to regulate the bar.
That sounds improbable, but a Texas appellate court says it's so. Let's assume it is. So what? The question our earlier editorial addressed was whether the commercial practices of lawyers should be exempted from regulation by the Federal Trade Commission. We said then, and we say again, that it makes little difference whether lawyers' commercial practices are regulated now by state courts or by the lawyers themselves. The case against barring the FTC from regulating this one profession is strong in either instance. Why should lawyers be able to engage in anti-competitive practices just because they have persuaded some fellow lawyers on a bench that it's all right to do so?