Center of the American Experiment Joins Amicus Brief in Forced Union Fees Case Before U.S. Supreme Court, Unions Push Back

The Center joined our friends at the Cato Institute and the National Federation of Small Business (NFIB) in filing an amicus brief in Janus v ASFCME. Ilya Shapiro from Cato heads a magnificent legal team that does all the hard work, and we are grateful for the opportunity to speak to the Court on what could be the most politically consequential case heard this term.

Other briefs will address different questions for the Court; here is the QUESTION PRESENTED in the Cato brief:

Twice in the past five years this Court has explicitly questioned its holding in Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Educ., 431 U.S. 209 (1977), that it is constitutional for a government to force its employees to pay agency fees to an exclusive representative for speaking and contracting with the government over policies that affect their profession. Harris v. Quinn, 134 S. Ct. 2618 (2014); Knox v. SEIU, Local 1000, 567 U.S. 298 (2012). Two terms ago, this Court split 4-4 on whether to overrule Abood. Friedrichs v. Cal. Teachers Ass’n, 136 S. Ct. 1083 (2016). This case presents the same question presented in Friedrichs: Should Abood be overruled and public-sector agency fee arrangements declared unconstitutional under the First Amendment? Amici focus on the embedded issue of whether stare decisis mandates upholding the widespread infringement of non-unionized public-sector employees’ rights under the government’s purported interest in maintaining “labor peace.”

The Janus case, which I have been telling you about for months, is the second act but probably not the final act, in the Rebecca Friedrichs case (Mrs. Friedrichs is pictured below). It is expected to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in January of 2018 so stay tuned.

The case is first and foremost a defense of Free Speech and Liberty, which if successful, will begin to restore some sanity to our country. Why should public employees have to support the political speech of a union in order to keep their jobs? Why are they forced to fund the party of government with their paychecks? How did this ever happen in America? And what price have we paid for monopoly funding to government unions for the last 50 years? How has our electoral and legislative process been warped? Let’s pray that the Court will rule in favor of workplace freedom and that the damage to our country and culture can be reversed.

The government unions will not honor or embrace a ruling in favor of the First Amendment rights of public employees, so follow-on cases will have to be brought to extricate people from the annual and frustrating ritual of opting out of union dues.

As I wrote in The Wall Street Journal, the teachers’ union, Education Minnesota, has raised dues $14 to pay for all the teachers in the state to sign an auto-renewal card designed to thwart any ruling in favor of employee freedom. The bad news I am hearing from friends around the state: most teachers are just signing the cards.

The good news is the Center will keep fighting the good fight and so will our network of freedom-loving friends around the country.

Here is what you can do: if you know a teacher, MNDOT worker, cop or other public employee, please send this on, tell them about Janus and what is at stake. Ask them what would happen if their union had to earn their support to remain their bargaining agent?

If you enjoy reading about how the Court should approach constitutional issues, and the good and bad of stare decisis (ruling and overruling precedent), please take a few minutes to scan our amicus brief. It is short and beautifully crafted. The Janus case, and all the briefs can be found at a wonderful website call SCOTUS Blog. (For Timberwolves fans, SCOTUS stands for Supreme Court of the United States.)