10:22, June 27 197 0 abajournal.com

2018-06-27 10:22:06
Supreme Court rules mandatory union dues violate free speech rights of public employees

Developing: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision on Wednesday that requiring public employees to pay union dues for collective bargaining violates their free speech rights under the First Amendment.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote the majority opinion, SCOTUSblog reports.

The court ruled in a challenge by Illinois employee Mark Janus, who isn’t a union member and objected to paying mandatory fees for collective bargaining. The Supreme Court accepted the case after splitting 4-4 in March 2016 in a different case raising the same issue.

Janus sought to overturn the 1977 Supreme Court decision Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. The case held that public employees may be required to pay mandatory fees to unions for collective bargaining, but not for political or ideological activity.

The Supreme Court agreed to overrule the decision. “We recognize the importance of following precedent unless there are strong reasons for not doing so,” Alito wrote. “But there are very strong reasons in this case. Fundamental free speech rights are at stake. Abood was poorly reasoned. It has led to practical problems and abuse. It is inconsistent with other First Amendment cases and has been undermined by more recent decisions.”

The U.S. Justice Department switched a previous stance when it sided with Janus in an amicus brief. The department said its previous position gave insufficient weight to the First Amendment interest of employees.

The case is Janus v. AFSCME.

ABAJournal.com: “Chemerinsky: Free speech at the Supreme Court”

ABAJournal.com: “Gorsuch asks no questions in oral arguments on mandatory union fees for government workers”

ABAJournal.com: “Justice Department reverses course and urges Supreme Court to overrule pro-union precedent”

ABAJournal.com: “Supreme Court accepts new challenge to mandatory collective bargaining fees for public employees”