Friedrichs celebrates freedom to choose

The hero of their flight against mandatory union fees says ‘this battle for liberty cannot be abandoned’

Rebecca Friedrichs, the California school teacher who argued that mandatory union fees violate her speech and association rights, was the featured speaker in July at Center of the American Experiment’s annual birthday celebration of Dr. Milton Friedman, a champion of the school choice movement.

Friedrichs won her oral argument 5-4 in January 2016 at the Supreme Court, but lost the case when Justice Scalia died before issuing a written opinion.

More than 100 people, including many school teachers, attended the event at the Crowne Plaza in Minneapolis. They heard Friedrichs say she fought for all public employees, but at her core, she is a teacher, so it is really about students. “My heart is broken for America’s children, as their teachers will continue to be forced to fund policies and highly political collective bargaining processes which place the desires of adults above the rights and needs of children,” she said. “This battle for liberty cannot be abandoned, and we’ve built an incredible network, so I’m optimistic we can continue working together to restore First Amendment rights to teachers and other public sector workers. Our kids are worth the fight.”

American Experiment’s Kim Crockett agreed. “I am optimistic, too,” she said. “But we cannot place our faith in the courts. Recall our excitement as we waited for the Obamacare decision, only to be crushed by a too clever opinion by Chief Justice Roberts.”

Crockett is the Center’s vice president and senior policy fellow. She said a victory in the Friedrichs case would have relieved us from having to wage the battle state by state.

“While we cannot stop taking our case to the courts and Congress, we must renew our fight in the court of public opinion and the legislative process. Let’s follow Rebecca’s example and introduce ourselves to teachers and other public employees.”