Corporate Accountability

RELEASE: Justices Hear Argument in Critical Labor Case

WASHINGTON— This morning the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Janus v. AFSCME, a case featuring the latest challenge to fair-share fees that non-union public-sector workers have to pay in some states to the unions that bargain for wages and benefits on behalf all employees, union members and non-members alike. Constitutional Accountability Center filed a brief in support of the constitutionality of these fair-share fees on behalf of current and former state and local Republican elected officials. CAC Chief Counsel Brianne Gorod and Civil Rights Director David Gans were at the Court for this morning’s argument and issued the following reaction:

“This morning Justice Kennedy evinced a real hostility to public sector unions, expressing concerns that they would contribute to higher taxes and larger government,” CAC Chief Counsel Gorod said. “But those are quintessential policy judgments, not constitutional concerns. As the Republican state and local officeholders that we represent explained in their brief to the Court, there is no First Amendment bar to public sector agency fair share fees, which means the decision whether to allow them is a policy decision that is best made by state officials. That’s what the Supreme Court recognized forty years ago, and it should recognize it again now.”

“As the attorneys defending the Illinois law recognized,” CAC Civil Rights Director Gans continued, “the First Amendment allows state governments broad authority to manage their workforces effectively and efficiently. Thus, there is no reason to constitutionalize one uniform rule for the entire country. Rather, as the Court recognized forty years ago, the states should have broad leeway to choose how to run their workplaces to preserve labor peace and ensure the efficient delivery of services. A ruling upholding Illinois’s requirement that state employees pay their fair share of the costs of collective bargaining is the only one that would be consistent with both our First Amendment and federalism principles.”

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Resources:

CAC’s brief in Janus v. AFSCME on behalf of Republican current and former state and local officeholders: https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/janus-v-american-federation-of-state-county-and-municipal-employees-council-31-et-al-u-s-sup-ct/

“GOP state lawmakers join Supreme Court brief asking to reject challenge to compulsory union fees,” Cook County Record, January 22, 2018: https://cookcountyrecord.com/stories/511319469-gop-state-lawmakers-join-supreme-court-brief-asking-to-reject-challenge-to-compulsory-union-fees

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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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