The New York Timesdescribed the ruling as “the starkest illustration yet of how the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month has blocked the power of the court’s four remaining conservatives to move the law to the right.”
Anti-union plaintiffs in the case appeared to be headed toward a Supreme Court victory when justices heard arguments in the case in January.
Statements by conservative justices at the time were worrisome enough for some local union leaders to begin bracing for possible changes.
Currently 25 states have “Right to Work” laws that prohibit compulsory union dues. In the other states, including Hawaii, employees in unionized jobs (such as public school teachers) can opt out of paying dues that go toward political activities but not dues that support things like collective bargaining.
Teachers in the Friedrichs case argued that requiring public employees to pay union dues violates the First Amendment. According to the Center for Individual Rights, which represented the anti-union teachers, mandatory dues violate “well-settled principles of freedom of speech and association.” The suit asserts that essentially all union activities, including collective bargaining, are inherently political.