December 19, 2017

SCOTUSblog symposium on Janus v. AFSCME

By Deborah J. La Fetra Senior Attorney

Today begins SCOTUSblog‘s online symposium discussing Janus v. AFSCME, the case that could free government workers nationwide from being coerced to support public employee unions. My submission, “Overrule Abood to protect individual rights (at long last)”, discusses how the Supreme Court is poised to overrule the 40-year old decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which grants public employee unions the extraordinary ability to garnish workers’ wages for the inherently political act of collective bargaining for taxpayer-funded wages and benefits. A taste:

Government employees work for the public and are paid by the public, and at the same time are also taxpaying members of the public. For the state to force them to subsidize one side of important political questions about the spending of taxpayer dollars — a side with which many of them for good reason disagree — is unfair, disrespectful, dangerous, and unconstitutional.

As PLF has consistently argued, the First Amendment prohibits such compulsion to subsidize union politicking. In Janus, the Court has the ability – and, one hopes, the will – to reverse Abood‘s decades-long injustice.

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Janus v. American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, Council 31

The Illinois Public Labor Relations Act authorizes public employee unions to collect “fair share” or “agency shop” fees from non-member employees. Two non-member public employees sued to invalidate this law as an unconstitutional infringement on First Amendment rights. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that one employee was barred because of previous litigation and that the claims of the other employee (Mark Janus) were barred solely because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), which permits unions to garnish wages of non-member employees for the purpose of collective bargaining and contract administration. PLF supports Janus’s petition for a writ of certiorari.

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