Scalia's Gift To Public Unions
As a member of our nation's highest court, Justice Antonin Scalia was a champion of so-called Conservative values. With his passing, however, the Justice's absence has led to liberal groups declaring victory on a number of cases.
Since his death in February, cases about the EPA, Texas abortion restrictions, and class action lawsuits have all gone differently than they probably would have if Justice Scalia was still on the bench. And last week, his absence was a major factor in the Court's split decision on public sector unions.
Back in January, Justice Scalia made clear his views on so-called “fair share fees.” Those fees, also known as agency fees, help cover the legal costs of representing all workers in a union shop, even when some choose not to become a member of that union.
Current law requires unions to negotiate on behalf of everyone in a workplace, and the agency fees, which are less than regular dues, make sure that the non-union workers aren't getting a free ride. However, Scalia appeared to side with the argument that those fees represent forced political speech because they subsidize collective bargaining.
Back in January during oral arguments, he said, “The problem is that everything that is bargained for with the government is within the political sphere, almost by definition.” But, thanks to his passing, the Supreme Court just issued a split 4-to-4 decision, which means the lower-court ruling protecting unions stays in place for the time being.
The case will likely wind up back before the court in the future, but for now, our public unions will have the power to fight another day. And, if the U.S. Senate stops refusing to do their job, President Obama could appoint a new Justice who isn't opposed to our vital labor unions.
In the meantime, let's celebrate these small victories from our nation's highest, divided court and continue to push the Senate to consider Obama's nominee.