SCOTUS Deals Blow to Labor Unions in Janus Case

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Tuesday that non-union public-sector workers who are nevertheless represented by a union for bargaining purposes cannot be required to pay union fees. Janus v. AFSCME hinged on the case of Mark Janus, a child-support specialist in Illinois who argued that he should not be forced to pay fees to his union. Existing law, as determined by the 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, states that all employees must pay a fee to account for the benefits of collective bargaining that unions offer. Janus argued, however, that the law violates his right to free speech, because it requires him to fund an organization that speaks on his behalf and is designed to shift policy on salary, benefits, and pensions. This ruling is expected to devastate labor unions, which rely on non-member dues to stay afloat. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, and was joined by Justices Roberts, Thomas, Kennedy, and Gorsuch; Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Kagan dissented. Kagan, writing for the minority, wrote that the decision will have “large scale consequences,” and that “judicial disruption does not get any greater than what the court does today.”