The Supreme Court has just issued its long-awaited ruling in Janus v. AFSCME 31, holding that public sector unions cannot compel the payment of agency fees from nonmembers. The ruling was 5-4, with Justice Gorsuch casting the vote that Justice Scalia would have cast in the case before the Court presenting the same issue at the time of Justice Scalia’s death.
In an opinion by Justice Alito, the Court overruled the Abood case, holding that fundamental First Amendment principles of free association precluded the result in that case. Public employees cannot be forced to subsidize a union if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bargaining and related activities. The public sector unions subject to this ruling have anticipated this outcome and planned to minimize its impact. The impact is not entirely predictable.
This is another case that vindicates the stand of Senate Republicans declining to take up the nomination of Merrick Garland in President Obama’s last year in office. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley held the GOP Senate Caucus together in the face of the withering Democrat/media barrage.