My personal free association rights hang in the balance. That is one reason why this presidential election is so important to me.
In an unexpected victory for union supporters, the Supreme Court said Tuesday it was evenly divided in a case concerning public sector unions, and therefore it affirmed the lower court decision in organized labor's favor.Fox News:
The result leaves intact a nearly 40-year-old precedent and is most likely reflective of the impact that Justice Antonin Scalia's death had on pending cases.At oral arguments, the high court seemed poised to deal a major blow to unions and overrule precedent, but with Scalia's death there were no longer five justices available to do so.
The Supreme Court split 4-4 Tuesday on a challenge brought by public school teachers who objected to paying union dues, delivering a big win for the unions – in the first major case where the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s vote would have proved decisive.Update: Forbes:
The California teachers in the case had challenged a state law requiring non-union workers to pay “fair share” fees into the public-employee unions to cover collective bargaining costs.
The court, with its split decision, left in place a lower court ruling favoring the unions.
The result is an unlikely victory for organized labor after it seemed almost certain the high court would rule 5-4 to overturn a system in place nearly 40 years. The court is operating with only eight justices after the death of Scalia, who had been expected to rule against the unions.
The one-sentence opinion Tuesday does not set a national precedent and does not identify how each justice voted. It simply upholds a decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that applies to California and eight other Western states.
Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association was one of the highly anticipated cases of this Term. The Court was to decide whether public employee unions can garnish the wages of non-union members to support the unions’ collective bargaining and other political activities, without those workers’ consent. Rebecca Friedrichs and other teachers challenged California laws that granted the union special permission to garnish their wages as a violation of their First Amendment rights. PLF supported the teachers with an amicus brief. Oral arguments looked promising for the teachers, and the teachers’ unions began preparing for life without agency shop fees. Then Justice Scalia passed away and the landscape changed. As California teacher Darren Miller lamented, “Friedrichs is probably the last time in my life I’ll get a chance to be free of forced unionism as a teacher, and now that chance has suffered a body blow.”The author is a principal attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation.
Miller called it, at least for the time being. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in favor of the unions, in a 4-4 tie.
Today’s decision allows the union to continue to trample individual teachers’ constitutional rights as they have been doing since 1977’s decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. The Abood case allows unions to garnish wages of non-union members to pay for collective bargaining, which, in the public sector, is rife with politics and lobbying. While Abood lives for today, the fact remains that the Court significantly weakened Abood in two recent union dues cases—Knox v. Service Employees International Union and Harris v. Quinn—both of which noted that the decision in Abood was based on faulty premises and an unrealistic view of public-employee unionism, with the resulting infringement on individual rights. For this reason, I offer Miller and other California teachers this hope: Resolution of this fight is delayed, but it is not over.
Update #2, 3/31/16:
The California teacher challenging compulsory union dues will file a request for the Supreme Court to rehear her case after it deadlocked on her petition to overturn longstanding precedent.
“We are very patient people and we are definitely in this for the long haul,” veteran teacher Rebecca Friedrichs said in a Tuesday conference call with reporters. “In our view it simply delays the final outcome … I am very hopeful that the justices will let us reargue the case.” link