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Author: Deborah J. LaFetra

October 14, 2020

Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund unions’ political speech

Editors note: On October 13, the New Jersey Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the union's appeal of the ruling that struck down release time. Instead of focusing on the statutory ruling below, the state high court appears poised to rule on whether release time violates the New Jersey Constitution's Gift Clause that prohibits a ...

October 01, 2020

You shouldn’t need to be rich to defend your civil rights in court

If the government violates your civil rights, should you only be able to defend yourself in court if you can afford a high-priced lawyer (or convince a high-priced lawyer to represent you for free)? Of course not. But an upcoming Supreme Court case called Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski could ultimately open (or close) the courthouse doors ...

June 10, 2019

The Hill: Public interest litigation is under attack in California

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. the Board of Education, which found racial segregation of schools to be unconstitutional. That famed case, brought by courageous parents in Topeka, Kan., was more than a victory for civil rights: it also illustrates the power of public interest ...

May 28, 2019

Daily Journal: Does California value public interest litigation?

When a school district or a city or a state violates its citizens’ constitutional rights, we applaud when those citizens fight back. But it costs a lot to sue the government. Fortunately, they aren’t alone: Public interest law foundations and attorneys providing pro bono representation exist to help people enforce their rights in court. ...

March 29, 2019

Tell me why?

Everyone has a First Amendment right to remain silent – the government cannot compel speech or association without a person's affirmative consent. In Harris v. Quinn (2014), the Supreme Court held that the Service Employees International Union in Illinois unconstitutionally stole "dues" from Medicaid subsidies paid to more than 30,000 home-based ...

February 22, 2019

Never assume government competence

Last June, the Supreme Court held in Janus v. AFSCME that states could no longer permit public employee unions to garnish non-union employee paychecks to subsidize the union's activities in collective bargaining or anything else, without the employee's affirmative consent. By compelling employees to subsidize speech or associate with an organizatio ...

January 15, 2019

End discrimination against corporate speech

Originally published in The Hill, January 15, 2019. "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." George Orwell's pithy lesson from "Animal Farm" describes the hypocrisy of governments that proclaim the equality of their citizens, while granting special power and privileges to an elite group. It's also an apt description of ...

January 04, 2019

End discrimination against corporate speech

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." In Animal Farm, George Orwell described the hypocrisy of governments that proclaim the equality of their citizens but reserves to an elite group the ability to exercise power and enjoy special privileges. Our Constitution's First Amendment plainly states that Congress shall make ...

December 12, 2018

The constitutional right to speak for yourself

Public employees are a diverse group. Just as they don't all look alike, neither do they think alike. Under union-backed "exclusive representation" laws, however, they must speak with a single voice: the union's voice. In Massachusetts, four educators employed by the University of Massachusetts are challenging the state law that gives a union the s ...

December 05, 2018

The death knell for integrated bars?

Originally published by the Daily Journal, December 4, 2018. Could last summer’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME (2018 DJDAR 6308), forbidding states from allowing unions to garnish wages of nonmember employees without their affirmative consent, sound the death knell of the integrated bar? That’s exactly what North Dakota lawyer Arnold Fl ...