Public unions could lose political power if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that mandatory “agency fees” violate the First Amendment rights of non-union members.
Illinois state employee Mark Janus filed a lawsuit against the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees to end the practice of forcing public workers to pay an “agency fee” for someone to represent them in collective bargaining, even if they aren’t a member of the union. Janus contends that these fees represent compelled speech, and that he is being forced to subsidize political activity he doesn’t support. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on February 26.
“Some labor leaders believe this will be almost a fatal blow — you know what, that’s their fault,” Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said Friday. “No one is saying that labor unions [shouldn’t] exist; they just have to make themselves attractive so that people join voluntarily, rather than under the state’s compulsion.”
He also notes that “Justice [Neil] Gorsuch… is pretty much a champion of the choice of individuals in this type of environment.”
However, UCLA law professor and First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh disagrees with Napolitano, telling Fox News that he doesn’t think “requiring people to pay money is a First Amendment problem, even if that money is used for ideological expression,” as he notes that “we’re required to pay our taxes… and some portion of that is used by the government to express its views… and that’s not viewed as speech restriction.”