Supreme Court Set to Reexamine Constitutionality of Compulsory Union Fees

Date: September 28, 2017

This morning the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Janus v. American Federation—which asks whether states can force public employees to financially support public employee unions that they do not wish to endorse. NFIB Small Business Legal Center joined with Cato Institute and numerous other groups urging the Court to hear this case. And this is sure to be a blockbuster, as this is the follow-up to Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which ended anticlimactically in a 4-4 tie in the wake of Justice Scalia’s passing in 2016.

Even though the case concerns public employees, we think it’s hugely important not only because of the weighty constitutional issues presented but because public employee unions have become enriched and all too powerful in those states that compel dissenters to fund union activities. We explain the importance of this issue here. And for those interested, check out the arguments we advanced previously in Friedreichs.

Relatedly, we are also cautiously optimistic that the Court may grant certiorari in Hill v. SEIU. The Hill case asks whether states may compel non-public workers to affiliate with a public employee union, even if they are not required to lend financial support. We argue that even this sort of regime violates the First Amendment—and inappropriately ropes in private commercial actors.

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