Dan Gilmore / January 12, 2016

SCOTUS Union Case Is One to Watch

A First Amendment challenge to mandatory union dues.

We’re only days into 2016 and one of the most significant court cases of this year is on the Supreme Court’s docket. How significant? Usually, the court hears two arguments for 60 minutes. But in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, SCOTUS heard only one argument for 80 minutes Monday. The question: Were the First Amendment rights for 10 California teachers violated when they were required to pay dues to public unions with whom the teachers disagree? If teachers, or other public employees, don’t have to pay for collective bargaining, then in the words of Justice Elena Kagan in 2014, “It would radically restructure the way workplaces across [this nation] are run.” It was a bad SCOTUS ruling that gave the unions this overreach of power in the first place, and now, the Court has a chance to actually uphold Liberty. Liberals are actually hoping that Justice Antonin Scalia might be the swing vote to their side, as he’s made favorable comments towards unions. But as the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board wrote, “Justice Scalia has since voted with the majority in cases that recognized the First Amendment problems with union-fee schemes, including Harris and Knox v. SEIU in 2012. Justice Scalia has always been alert to threats to free speech, and we find it hard to believe he would tolerate California’s coercive design.”

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