The Supreme Court Just Reminded Us Why It’s So Important To Vote
The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision makes it tempting to see its narrow ruling in Harris v. Quinn‘s as a minor victory on a bad day, but the case that threatened to destroy public unions is as clear an example as any that this is why you must always vote. In a 5-4 decision on Monday, the court ruled in favor of home health care workers who didn’t want to pay dues to a public union that they weren’t members of. However, the ruling was sufficiently narrow to preserve the right of public unions to collect dues from other types of non-members. The court could have extended its ruling to any public employee who objects to a union’s activities, but it didn’t, so that’s kind of a win, right?
Not exactly, since the existence of public sector unions wasn’t supposed to have been at issue in the first place. From SCOTUSBlog:
This seemed an unlikely case to even raise that issue, but raise it, it surely did. The case only involves home-care workers who provide medical services for patients one on one, and the prospect that their activities might pose a threat to labor peace appeared remote indeed. Several members of the Court, though, were insistent that this case raises very large issues about labor relations in the public sector — an issue that is stirring up a good deal of agitation around the country, especially in state and local government.
Aside from what was said explicitly from the bench, the atmospherics of [the] argument suggested strongly that this case has very large potential. The mood of the Court’s more liberal members was one of obvious trepidation, and that of its more conservative members — except for Justice Scalia — was of apparent eagerness to reach anew the core constitutionality of compulsory union support among public workers.
The argument that threatened the existence of public unions was the notion that public union activities are necessarily issues of “public concern,” and the collection of dues from anyone constitutes a violation of the First Amendment. Instead, the court relied mainly on the differences between the private home care providers and full public employees.
Along the way, though, the court’s conservative members provided a road map to future challenges to public unionization…READ MORE