Unions Prevail as Friedrichs Case Fails in the Absence of Justice Scalia
In January, a very important case was heard before the Supreme Court and could have meant the beginning of the end of unions as we know them in the United States. As I laid out in a blog post I made in January, the case brought forward by the leading plaintiff Rebecca Friedrichs, along with several other teachers, sought to end “agency fees” or “fair share fees” claiming they are a violation of First Amendment Rights under the Constitution.
Again as mentioned in the first blog post about the case, currently in California, teachers do not have to be a member of the California Teacher’s Association (CTA) – the defendant in the case – but they still have to pay fees to cover things like collective bargaining. Regardless if whether you are a union member or not, the union still legally represents you as a worker.
The lawyer for the plaintiffs said that if a union doesn’t represent one’s political views then they shouldn’t have to pay dues to the union because as Carvin (their lawyer) put it: “everything a union does is political”. The late Justice Scalia was in agreement with this, saying: “The problem is that everything that is collectively bargained with the government is within the political sphere, almost by definition.” Obviously what the late Justice and Carvin are missing is that not everything a union deals with is political and can actually be quite mundane.
With the Justice’s decision the judgement probably would have been 5-4 in favour of Friedrichs, however, with the death of Scalia early last February, the court was tied in a 4-4 stalemate. In the event of a tied eight judge court, the ruling of the lower court remains in effect and thus on Tuesday, led to a victory for unions: a ruling in favour of the CTA.
As Adam Liptak for the New York Times wrote: “It was the starkest illustration yet of how the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month has blocked the power of the court’s four remaining conservatives to move the law to the right.”
I always found it ironic that Scalia accused unions of being so political when many of his attempts at ‘protecting’ the text of the constitution, were actually attacks on the foundational issues that many groups stand for, be they unions, the Left, the LGBTQ community, minorities, etc. Until now in my blog posts, I have tried to remain somewhat neutral when it came to speaking of the death of Scalia but I obviously don’t think that a person’s death should exonerate them from some of the (to say it bluntly) awful things they’ve done. Scalia is a very large reason for why America is as right-wing as it is today and why the legal system fails so many.
To further amplify my feelings towards Scalia, the George Mason School of Law, just changed its name to the Antonin Scalia School of Law – or ASS Law. Take that as you will, but I think it’s quite fitting.