June 6, 2017
WASHINGTON – Conservative groups are wasting little time in trying to deal a crippling blow to labor unions now that Justice Neil Gorsuch has joined the Supreme Court.
A First Amendment clash over public sector unions left the justices deadlocked last year after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. But union opponents have quickly steered a new case through federal courts in Illinois and they plan to appeal it to the high court on Tuesday.
The groups say unions representing government employees violate the free speech rights of workers by collecting money from people who don’t want to join.
If the high court agrees, it could threaten the financial viability of unions and reduce the clout of labor, one of the biggest contributors to Democratic political campaigns.
The Supreme Court seemed all but certain to rule against the unions in a similar case — Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association — argued before Scalia died. That case, involving a California teachers’ union, was the first of several to split 4-4 while the court was short-handed. The deadlock left in place a four-decade-old practice that lets public-sector unions collect fees from non-members to cover the costs of collective bargaining.
“Our hope is that a year from now, the Supreme Court will end this injustice and free every public school teacher, safety officer and other government worker to decide for themselves whether or not to financially support a union with their hard-earned money,” said a joint statement from the two organizations backing the case – the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and Liberty Justice Center.