U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court accepts new challenge to mandatory collective bargaining fees for public employees

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to take a new look at the constitutionality of mandatory union contributions by public employees.

The Supreme Court split 4-4 on the First Amendment issue in March 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia left a vacancy that had not been filled until Neil M. Gorsuch was confirmed on April 7.

Now, the court has agreed to consider a new case that asks whether public sector workers who aren’t members of a union can be required to help pay for collective bargaining, report the New York Times, the National Law Journal (sub. req.) and SCOTUSblog. The cert petition is here (PDF).

The Times says the case “could deal a crushing blow to organized labor.” Public sector unions could lose a substantial source of income if the court rules against them, according to the article.

Illinois employee Mark Janus contends he shouldn’t have to pay the fees because he is forced to support the speech of a union bargaining representative who is negotiating on political issues such as wages, pensions and benefits.

Janus seeks to overturn the 1977 Supreme Court decision Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. The case held that public employees may be required to pay mandatory fees to unions for collective bargaining, but not for political or ideological activity.

The case is Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

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