Unions

Deadlocked!

3/29/16
from The Gray Area:

In the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, The Supreme Court voted 4-4 on a case brought by the Christian Educators Association International and nine California teachers against forced union fees to non-members. The decision keeps in place a lower-court ruling favoring unions.

The one-line opinion says it all, “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.

This points to the issues associated with the question of filling Justice Scalia's vacated seat immediately or in early 2017 after the 2016 Presidential election.

Waiting until 2017 gives you these kind of no-decision decisions. Approving a new Justice now, will certainly create a Court with a 5-4 liberal majority meaning all future decisions will be decided, not necessarily according to the Constitution, but according to liberal whims of fairness based instead on political correctness.

It is clear that the country needs to wait in the hope that a Republican President is elected and a new Justice will maintain a 5-4 conservative majority. Though decisions in the interim will be difficult, or even useless, the possibility of a Justice that will help the Court make decisions based only on the Constitution is worth the wait. So expect the Court to remain deadlocked on important decisions for another year.

More From The Wall Street Journal, :

Public employee unions survived a threat to their power in nearly half the country Tuesday as the Supreme Court deadlocked on a lawsuit designed to abolish their ability to require compulsory dues in more than 20 states. The 4-4 vote is the most dramatic consequence yet of last month’s death of Justice Antonin Scalia. His comments at January’s arguments suggested he would have voted to overrule a 1977 precedent allowing public employee unions to collect mandatory dues from represented workers if authorized by state law.

The split keeps in place a lower-court ruling favoring unions in a case brought by the Christian Educators Association International and nine California teachers. The case, had the challengers won, would have altered the national legal landscape for public-sector union fees. The court offered no detailed explanation about the outcome or vote count, saying in a one-line opinion, “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.” There was little doubt that the justices split along right/left ideological lines. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito voted against the unions; Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan sided with them. The decision highlighted the stakes for filling the court’s vacancy, coming a few hours before President Barack Obama’s nominee—Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit—was to have his first meeting with a Republican senator, Mark Kirk of Illinois. The court’s conservative majority in recent years had signaled it was ready to reconsider the 1977 precedent, which in effect extended to public employees a collective-bargaining framework similar to that enjoyed by private-sector workers. Under it, states are permitted to authorize agency-shop agreements requiring all workers represented by a union to pay it dues or, if they object to membership, a fee to cover collective bargaining expenses.

Because it takes five votes to rehear a case, the Supreme Court is unlikely to grant such a petition in the near future. It is rare for the court to agree to rehear a case at the request of the losing party. If they don’t dismiss the petition outright, the justices would almost certainly hold it for action until a new justice is seated, which might not happen until mid-2017. At least one other lawsuit raising a similar issue is pending in the lower courts, but its prospects likewise are dim until the Supreme Court again has nine justices. “The Supreme Court today rejected a political ploy by the wealthy corporate special interests backing this case to make it harder for working families and the middle class to come together, speak up and get ahead,” said Eric Heins, president of the California Teachers Association. Advocates of the system say it prevents “free riders” who benefit from pay raises, job-security clauses and other contractual rights achieved through collective bargaining without paying their fair share of the costs.

More than 20 states have laws authorizing such agency fees, predominantly in Democratic strongholds such as California, New York and Illinois. Public employee unions in those states make up an important part of the Democratic Party base, and a loss could have eviscerated the political power of those unions. Conservatives challengers argued that nearly any communications to a government entity such as a school board or city council, including a collective bargaining proposal, amounts to political speech which falls under special First Amendment rules, raising a novel theory aimed at public-sector unions. Requiring objectors to pay a fee for collective bargaining, they argued, was compelled speech and therefore unconstitutional.



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