It didn’t make the biggest headlines, but the most important thing that happened today was the U.S. Supreme Court’s granting of certiorari in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31. I wrote about the Janus case here:
The case raises issues substantially identical to those in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.
In Friedrichs, decided last year, the Court split 4-4 following the death of Justice Scalia, and therefore left standing a 9th Circuit decision adverse to the plaintiff, a California school teacher. In Janus, like Friedrichs, plaintiffs are asking the Court to overturn the ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and bar public employees from being forced into unions, or from being required to support unions via the fiction of “fair share” contributions. It is widely believed that Rebecca Friedrichs would have won her case had Scalia lived, and that, with Neil Gorsuch now sitting in place of Scalia, Janus and his co-plaintiff will win, Abood will be overturned, and public sector unions will be dealt a very serious blow.
While rich leftists are often assumed to be the main supporters of the Democratic Party, it is public sector unions that provide the lion’s share of the Democrats’ funding. They take money involuntarily from their members, a large majority of whom have never even voted on whether to be represented by a union, and many of whom disapprove of the union’s agenda, and recycle that money into left-wing causes, Democratic Party candidates, and inflated salaries for countless union officials. The entire system is the number one form of corruption in American public life.
If, as expected, Justice Gorsuch casts the decisive fifth vote in favor of Mark Janus, that cycle of corruption will come to a screeching halt. All public employees in the U.S. will, in effect, be treated as though they were in a right to work state. Those who don’t want to be represented by the union, or support it, won’t have to. The effect on the public sector unions, and the Democratic Party, will be devastating, as we have seen in Wisconsin. When teachers and other public employees aren’t required by law to support Democratic Party unions, they desert them in droves.
Although it was expected, unions have reacted hysterically to the Supreme Court’s granting of cert in Janus. The country’s four largest public sector unions–AFSCME, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and SEIU–issued a joint press release. It is over the top:
The Janus case is a blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people. The billionaire CEOs and corporate interests behind this case, and the politicians who do their bidding, have teamed up to deliver yet another attack on working people by striking at the freedom to come together in strong unions.
There is much more in the same vein. For example, the President of AFSCME writes:
This case is yet another example of corporate interests using their power and influence to launch a political attack on working people and rig the rules of the economy in their own favor. … The merits of the case, and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent and sound law, are on our side. We look forward to the Supreme Court honoring its earlier rulings.
Leftists are selectively enthusiastic about stare decisis–it is wonderful when they are trying to avoid reversal of the ill-advised Abood, not so wonderful when they are arguing for a brand-new constitutional right to, for example, gay marriage. The last thing the Democrats want is for public employees to be liberated to support the causes and politicians they believe in, rather than the ones the corrupt union selects.
Minnesota, where I live, is one of a number of states where public sector unions, especially teachers’ unions, are by far the most powerful political force. Conservatives who rely on voluntary contributions cannot begin to match the enormous revenues the teachers’ unions extract by force from people who are legally compelled to pay them. If the Supreme Court sides with the Janus plaintiffs, the political landscape in such states will be transformed.
The unions believe such a result is highly probable, which accounts for their hysteria. Our Never Trump friends should acknowledge that if Hillary Clinton had won the election, she would have appointed a justice to succeed Antonin Scalia who would have voted to keep public employees in a state of involuntary servitude to the unions, and the Democratic Party, forever.