A Supreme Court decision is expected soon in the Janus v American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) case and eight of the nine Justices were already on the record as to their decisions when Justice Antonin Scalia died thus delaying that decision’s announcement. Those eight were deadlocked at 4 – 4.
Justice Neil Gorsuch’s decision will be pivotal. Though AFSCME is a public worker union, it is, according to Marc Thiessen, writing in the Washington Post “an appendage” of the Democratic Party. 100% of AFSCME’s contributions have gone to the Democratic Party. The person who brought this case is Mark Janus who was, at least at the time, an employee of the State of Illinois who argued that forcing him to pay dues to that union was equivalent to violating his First Amendment rights to free speech. He reasoned that he was being forced to contribute money, a significant amount of which flowed directly to the Democratic Party.
Indiana passed a law called the “paycheck protection” law that barred forced collection of dues, and the membership in AFSCME dropped from 16,408 in 2005 to some 1,490 in 2011. Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker signed Act 10 that included ‘paycheck protection’ for public employees and membership decreased from 62,818 in 2011 to 28,745 a year later. That led other public union members to leave their unions and by 2016 some 132,000 fewer union members were counted.
The argument of Janus is basically the same. He argues that all spending by public-sector unions is political spending. In Wisconsin, for example, the state teachers’ affiliated health insurance carrier lost significant numbers of insureds and had to re-engineer its approach in order to continue in business. It is now virtually a middle-of-the-road health insurer that competes with all others for the business it used to dominate.
The opposition to such changes, in the form of Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, noted that students are compelled to pay student activity fees and those are used for things some of the students may object to without harming their free-speech rights. Lawyers are, for example, forced to pay dues to their state bar associations and those organizations may advocate for positions foreign to some of those attorneys.
This national case, of course, attracts a good deal more publicity than does a case in a single state. People are coming out with their arguments for each side of this question. The liberal Justices have mounted various arguments. Justice Elena Kagen has said, “I don’t think that we have ever overruled a case where reliance interests are remotely as strong as they are here.” Justice Breyer has apparently floated a “compromise” which would obviously be aimed at Justice Gorsuch since he is the only changed face on this court. Others are touting more “middle of the road” solutions to the ‘issue’.
Given the angst, the possibility that conservatives might rule the day, in this case, we see a clearer picture of just how much the liberals fear conservatism in the highest court of our land. My goodness, maybe the liberal judicial enclaves scattered across the Left Coast will ultimately be turned to middle-of-the-road courts or some might even become more conservative than middle-of-the-road in their leaning. That has to be a very frightening concept for the liberals to contemplate.
Elections have consequences. We all need to be involved and represent our belief system. The liberals learned that lesson long ago and have profited significantly as the result…at the expense of us conservatives. Time for a change engineered to last several lifetimes…at least!