Right to association, Bill of Rights

1. Concept

The right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged. (Section 8, Article III, 1987 Constitution)

a. Not contrary to law

Nonetheless, the Constitution limits this particular freedom in the sense that there could be an abridgment of the right to form associations or societies when their purposes are “contrary to law.” How should the limitation “for purposes not contrary to law” be interpreted? It is submitted that it is another way of expressing the clear and present danger rule for unless an association or society could be shown to create an imminent danger to public safety, there is no justification for abridging the right to form association societies. (Gonzales v. COMELEC, En Banc, G.R. No. L-27833, 18 April 1969)

In Re Integration of the Bar of the Philippines, En Banc ( January 1973)

• To compel a lawyer to be a member of an integrated Bar is not violative of his constitutional freedom to associate (or the corollary right not to associate)… Integration does not make a lawyer a member of any group of which he is not already a member. He became a member of the Bar when he passed the Bar examinations. All that integration actually does is to provide an official national organization for the well-defined but unorganized and incohesive group of which every lawyer is already a member.

Gonzales v. COMELEC, En Banc (April...

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