Supreme Court takes up case that will devastate public sector unions

Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Neil Gorsuch

In the 1977 case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Supreme Court held that public employees could be forced to pay dues for a union's representational work, but could not be required to pay for political activity.

An Illinois case could mean huge changes for how public employee unions across the country operate.

Litigants are being represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center-two institutions financed by some of Americas wealthiest conservative-benefactor families, including the Kochs, the Waltons, and the Coors families.

One last point: Janus involves only public-sector unions, or unions composed of state employees. I only found out the union was involved when money for the union started coming out of my paychecks.

In Friederichs, a Los Angeles public school teacher, Rebecca Friederichs, was protesting the fact that she had to pay money to the teachers union there. But if these dues constitute compelled political speech, how can the state require anti-union workers to pay them?

Lily Eskelsen García, the president of the almost 3 million-member National Education Association, said in a statement, "We won't back down from this fight and we will always stand up to support working people, our students and the communities we serve". If the Supreme Court sides with the Janus plaintiffs, the political landscape in such states will be transformed.

Under existing labor law, unions are not allowed to collect dues from non-union workers, as the unions would be free to use those dues to openly fund political activities to which non-union workers may object, violating the non-union workers' constitutional speech and association rights.

Conservatives across America who now are being forced to pay dues to their employer's unions to fund the left-leaning activities of their organized labor leaders - even speech with which they decidedly disagree - are getting another chance to escape that burden. Last year, in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association - a case virtually identical to Janus - the Court came to a 4-4 stalemate, robbed of its deciding vote by Antonin Scalia's death.

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"In fact, agency fees inflict the same grievous First Amendment injury as the government forcing a citizen to support a mandatory advocacy group to lobby the government", Janus's attorneys wrote in their Supreme Court petition.

With Justice Neil M. Gorsuch now on the court, there's a good chance agency fees will be deemed unconstitutional.

At the high court, a 4-4 tie does not overturn a lower court's conclusion.

On November 8, the Court will consider the issue of purging voter registration lists In Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Justices will look at an apparent conflict between federal voting statutes and state-based programs to maintain voter registration lists.

After deadlocking past year in a similar case, the Supreme Court agreed Thursday to decide whether government-employee unions can force nonmember workers to pay bargaining fees. Janus, a child support specialist, and two other state employees asked to join the suit on Rauner's side.

And if this case unfolds as expected, the widespread conservative belief that Donald Trump's impact on the federal courts outweighs numerous less fortunate aspects of his presidency will gain strength.

In the 1970s, the Supreme Court in a case called Abood said opponents of unions don't have to pay the purely political part of union dues, but do have to continue paying the "fair share" portion.

The Court's conservatives have said the fees could violate workers' First Amendment rights since unions frequently take stands on public issues.

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