Work it Out Blog

The Loss of Justice Scalia and the Implications for Public Unions

Mar 19, 2016

Of the cases to be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States this term, one of the most anticipated has been Friedrich v. California Teachers Association.  The case was brought by public school teachers, challenging the ability of public sector unions to charge fees to cover the cost of collective bargaining on their behalf—even for those school employees who are not members of the union.  A decision in favor of the plaintiffs would have given hundreds of thousands of public sector workers the prerogative to opt out of funding the unions that represented them.

The attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the case asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule against them in a calculated move to speed the case’s arrival at the Supreme Court.  With the unexpected death of Justice Anton Scalia in February, it now appears likely that the court will be split four justices to four.  If the vote is evenly divided, the holding of the lower court—in favor of the union—will stand.  

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