Supreme Court Could Strike Down Mandatory Union Fees

ola olugbemi | September 29, 2017

On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could potentially strike down mandatory fees for public sector unions in at least 22 states. 

The new case is being brought by Mark Janus, an Illinois state employee represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. According to a New York Times report, Janus sued the union on the grounds that he did not support the union's views and thus should not be forced to pay for their work.

In defense, union leaders made the case that workers should pay their fair share in order to reap the benefits of collective bargaining, which they claim is different than unions simply supporting political candidates. However, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito believes otherwise.

Offering the opinion of the court in a 2012 union case, Justice Alito explained:

Because a public-sector union takes many positions during collective bargaining that have powerful political and civic consequences, the compulsory fees constitute a form of compelled speech and association that imposes a significant impingement on First Amendment rights.

If Justice Alito gets his way, Mark Janus could enjoy constitutionally protected freedom from union dues as early as next June.

The issue could have been settled earlier, were it not for the untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose death left the bench with a 4-4 split in the court case Friedrichs v. California that could have decided the future of mandatory "fair-share" union fees.

The new addition of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch could spell trouble for unions in America, as his vote could shift the Court's ruling in favor of the conservative side of the bench, potentially erasing a 40-year precedent on the issue.