Tell me why?

March 29, 2019 | By DEBORAH LA FETRA

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 caregivers. But the union refused to refund the money to anyone who didn’t file a written objection before Harris. In follow-up litigation, Riffey v. Pritzker, the caregivers sought to be certified as a class to recover their money. Lower courts refused, saying that it was a matter of individual determination whether each caregiver objected to the union taking their money.

PLF filed an amicus brief today supporting the caregivers’ petition for writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court should take the case because people can invoke their constitutional rights for any reason or no reason at all. For example, if the police show up at your door without a search warrant, you can refuse them entry for any reason at all, and the police are not allowed to ask why you refuse. The same principle applies to the constitutional right to remain silent. The government has no authority to ask why you are refusing to speak. And when the government authorizes a union to take your money without your consent, it doesn’t matter why you didn’t consent. When constitutional rights are violated, the victims are entitled to recover, regardless of their state of mind.