The Wall Street Journal: The Lawyers Who Beat the Unions

Attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center and National Right to Work Legal Foundation represented Illinois state employee Mark Janus in an historic U.S. Supreme Court victory for workers’ rights in Janus v. AFSCME.

The excerpt below is from an opinion piece by James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal. It originally appeared in print on June 30, 2018 — just days after the Supreme Court victory.

The Supreme Court closed its term this week with what Jacob Huebert calls “a perfect decision for worker freedom.” In a landmark First Amendment case, the justices ruled 5-4 Wednesday that the government may not authorize labor unions to exact fees from public employees who choose not to join.

“Everything a public-sector union does is political,” Mr. Huebert says. Illinois’s Afscme Council 31, which he calls “an incredibly influential force in state politics,” has spent years “deadlocked” in negotiations with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. “They’ve been advocating not only increased pay and increased benefits, but also increased taxes,” Mr. Huebert says. “That’s part of the bargaining—that they tried to get the governor to join with them in advocating for higher taxes.” Under Abood, the union could still fund that activity with money from dissenters like Mr. Janus.

The result was everything Messrs. Janus, Messenger and Huebert could have hoped for, save a wider majority than 5-4. The high court unequivocally rejected the idea the unions’ interest in collecting what they call “fair share” fees trumps a nonmember’s First Amendment rights. “Petitioner strenuously objects to this free-rider label,” Justice Alito wrote. “He argues that he is not a free rider on a bus headed for a destination that he wishes to reach but is more like a person shanghaied for an unwanted voyage.”

Importantly, the court also held that public unions can collect fees only from employees who “affirmatively consent” to pay them.

Read the full piece in The Wall Street Journal.

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