The Supreme Court of California lowered the bar for lawyers Thursday when they dropped the passing score on the state’s bar exam by 50 points.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the state Supreme Court will also allow the exam to be taken remotely in the fall, as well as permit recent law graduates who have yet to take the test to practice with provisional licenses under the supervision of a licensed attorney, an arrangement that will remain in effect until June 2022 at the latest.
““This time frame will afford the 2020 graduates several opportunities to take the exam of their choosing through February 2022 and await the exam results,” the court said in a letter to the State Bar.
California, which has a reputation for the rigor of its bar exam, formerly required a score of 1440 to pass, but now 1390 is sufficient.
“The changing circumstances surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in California, and throughout the country, have had an unprecedented impact on professional licensure testing for graduates seeking admission to many professions,” the court wrote. “Many law school graduates are being substantially affected by the resulting disruption.”
“The court has sought the safest, most humane and practical options for licensing law graduates by encouraging and working with the State Bar to pursue the option of administering the California Bar Examination online as a remote test, to avoid the need for, and dangers posed by, mass in-person testing,” the court continued.
California has been one of the more stringent states regarding coronavirus lockdowns. After previously rolling back the lockdowns first implemented in March, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom reinstated them earlier this week.
“During a press briefing that all bars across the state must close up shop and that restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and card rooms must suspend indoor activities,” Fox News reported on Monday. “The governor also announced that all gyms, places of worship, malls, personal care services, barbershops, salons, and non-critical offices in counties on the state’s ‘monitoring list’ had to shut down under the new order.”
Citing an increase in COVID-related hospitalizations, Newsom ordered 30 California counties locked down again, which encompasses about 80% of the state’s population. Among its 39.5 million residents, California has seen more than 320,000 positive COVID-19 cases and 7,000 deaths, as of Monday.
In May, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 against South Bay United Pentecostal Church and Bishop Arthur Hodges, who filed a lawsuit alleging the lockdown was infringing on religious freedom.
“We’re dealing here with a highly contagious and often fatal disease for which there presently is no known cure,’” Judges Barry Silverman and Jacqueline Nguyen wrote. “In the words of Justice Robert Jackson, if a ‘court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.’”
Dissenting Judge Daniel Collins — a Trump appointee — wrote, “I do not doubt the importance of the public health objectives that the State puts forth, but the State can accomplish those objectives without resorting to its current inflexible and over-broad ban on religious services.”
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