U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit judges on Wednesday grappled with defining the California state bar’s relationship to state government, a key issue in deciding whether the lawyer-regulating agency could be subject to a federal disability-accommodation lawsuit.

In oral arguments in San Francisco, lawyers for the state bar said the agency enjoys sovereign immunity from claims brought under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s civil rights statute by Benjamin Kohn, who alleged he was denied adequate accommodations to take the bar exam in October 2020.