Civil and Human Rights

RELEASE: Court Ignores Republican Voices, Federalism, To Deal Blow to Public Sector Unions

Delivering this blow gave the lie to years of rhetoric about conservative concern for federalism and respect for state and local control. The Republican state and local officials we represent urged the Supreme Court’s conservative majority not to do this.

WASHINGTON—On news this morning that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, et al., ruling that states requiring union fair-share fees be paid to public sector unions who bargain on behalf of union and non-union workers alike is unconstitutional, Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra issued the following reaction:

The Court’s conservative Justices have been on a mission for years to deal this blow to public sector unions. There is no split among the circuits to resolve. No urgency at all to take up case after case over recent Terms in an attempt to overrule its decades-old precedent allowing states to set their own rules on whether or not to require workers who aren’t union members—but who benefit from union bargaining—to pay their fair share to those unions.

Well, thanks to Mitch McConnell’s power grab and the confirmation of Justice Gorsuch, conservatives today finally did the deed.

Let’s not be fooled, however. Delivering this blow gave the lie to years of rhetoric about conservative concern for federalism and respect for state and local control. The Republican state and local officials we represent urged the Supreme Court’s conservative majority not to do this. Nothing in the Constitution requires today’s result. No other law requires it. Nonetheless, Justice Alito donned his robe—a paper-thin disguise for the ideology that drives his majority opinion today—and ignored the Constitution’s text, history, and values to reach the result he’s long wanted to reach.

Justice Kagan’s dissent captures the issue perfectly, saying “[T]he majority’s road runs long. And at every stop are black-robed rulers overriding citizens’ choices. The First Amendment was meant for better things. It was meant not to undermine but to protect democratic governance—including over the role of public-sector unions.”

Today’s ruling hurts, but American workers are powerful. I know that after absorbing the Court’s decision today, they will continue to fight as hard as ever for the power and equality they deserve.

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Resources:

CAC brief on behalf of Republican state and local officials in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, et al.: https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/janus-v-american-federation-of-state-county-and-municipal-employees-council-31-et-al-u-s-sup-ct/

“Where are the Facts?” Brianne Gorod, Take Care, March 1, 2018: https://takecareblog.com/blog/where-are-the-facts

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Now in our tenth year, Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit the new CAC website at www.theusconstitution.org.

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