Politicos everywhere were paying very close attention to how the Supreme Court would rule on the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case. Rebecca Friedrichs, the lead plaintiff, was an elementary school teacher from Orange County who joined with a number of other California teachers in the lawsuit. Friedrichs challenged her union arguing that she should not be compelled to pay union dues. While current law allows for folks like Friedrichs to opt out of paying for union political activities, they are still required to pay agency fee that fund the collective bargaining process.
The Ninth Circuit held that public sector unions could charge all of their members for agency fees, thus preventing a “free rider problem” where people who do not pay union dues still benefit from the collective bargaining done by the union. Prior to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia it appeared as though the Court was primed to overturn the Ninth Circuit and deal a serious blow to the political power of public sector unions. But prior to the ruling coming down Justice Scalia tragically passed away causing the Court to hand down a 4-4 split decision, which upheld the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in favor of the teacher’s union, but did not set a national precedent, much to the chagrin on conservatives and Right To Work advocates.
The Center for Individual Rights attempted to have the case reheard after the appointment of a replacement Justice, but their petition was denied.
Alas to the joy of many Right to Work supporters there is another case on the horizon that could deal a crippling blow to public sector unions now that Donald Trump will be appointing the next Supreme Court Justice.
Janus v. AFSCME is a case in Illinois challenging the practice of government employees being legally compelled to pay union dues in order to hold a job. Currently the case has been dismissed by a District Judge and an appeal has been filed.
It is almost certain that had Antonin Scalia lived he would have voted with his fellow conservative Justices Thomas, Alito, Roberts, and Kennedy to essential make a national Right to Work policy. Donald Trump has said he would want to appoint a replacement who was as close to Scalia as possible, implying that the next Supreme Court Justice would likely rule with the other conservatives against the public sector unions, which could change the political landscape in America forever.
As of July 2016 there are 26 states that are classified as Right to Work states, and public sector unions spend millions of dollars every year directly and indirectly impacting the political process. Maybe the most significant legacy of a Trump Presidency could be appointing a Supreme Court Justice that rules against the labor unions and forever changes their influence on American politics.
Follow The Author On Twitter: [email protected]