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January 12 2016

Update on Supreme Court and Non-Union Teachers: Lookin' Good

Charlotte Hays

The Supreme Court yesterday took up the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which was filed by ten California teachers who argue that, since they decline to belong to the teachers' union, they should not have to pay any dues to said union.

The outcome on this case could have far-reaching consequences as twenty-three states require that non-union teachers pay a portion of teacher union dues.  An editorial in the Wall Street Journal sounded a note of optimism:

Americans need cheering up these days, so we’re happy to report that the First Amendment had a good day at the Supreme Court on Monday. The Justices are hard to predict, but a majority seems prepared to rule that it is unconstitutional for governments to coerce workers to pay agency fees to government unions.

That’s our happy judgment after Monday’s oral argument in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.  . . .

The union and state claim this is fair because all workers benefit from collective bargaining, so some workers shouldn’t be allowed to be “free riders” by paying no fees. But Justice Anthony Kennedy made short work of this in questioning the union counsel.

“It’s almost axiomatic. When you are dealing with a governmental agency, many critical points are matters of public concern. And is it not true that many teachers are—strongly, strongly disagree with the union position on teacher tenure, on merit pay, on merit promotion, on classroom size?” the Justice said. “The term is free rider. The union basically is making these teachers compelled riders for issues on which they strongly disagree.”

Justice Antonin Scalia made his own views clear when he asked counsel for the plaintiffs Michael Carvin whether it would be okay to pass a law “to force somebody to contribute to a cause that he does believe in?”

Mr. Carvin: “No, it’s not, and that’s because the bedrock” free-speech principle” is “not whether or not you vividly oppose what they’re saying, it’s because you don’t wish to subsidize it.”

Justice Scalia: “Exactly.”

Concerning the High Court, we follow the Berra Rule that it’s not over ’til it’s over, but Monday’s portents were excellent.

Meanwhile, Jeanne Allen, founder and president of the Center for Education Reform, has an analysis on why the law is unfair over at National Review.

 



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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