In April of 2016 WKCHR posted about Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. That case held–in a rare 4-4 split following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia–that public-sector agency shop arrangements do not violate the First Amendment’s protections. The Justices are poised to consider the constitutionality of agency fees again this coming term, in Janus v. American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees. This case concerns a Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services employee who makes a similar objection to agency fees as was at issue in Friedrichs, namely, an individual cannot be compelled to subsidize the speech of a third party that he or she doesn’t support. This argument is somewhat misleading, because under a 40 year-old case known as Abood v. Detroit, agency fees support core union activities such as collective bargaining–activities that have a real benefit for people like Mr. Janus, the plaintiff. Agency fees, by design, do not support political donations or lobbying. Without the agency fees, public sector unions will lose a critical source of income while still carrying the burden of fairly representing both union and non-union employees under federal law. Nonetheless, Judge Neil Gorsuch is widely predicted to deliver the 5th and critical vote against the constitutionality of agency fees. Stay tuned for this decision, which will likely be handed down in June.

Read more here (ScotusBlog) and here (LA Times).