Harris v. Quinn: The “Other” Supreme Court Decision Today

Supreme Court225px-010_alitoToday’s ruling in Hobby Lobby is the type of decision that tends to suck the oxygen out of the room. For that reason, the important decision in Harris v. Quinn could be overlooked. At issue in the case is the viability of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education— the 1977 opinion held that the government could constitutionally condition a person’s employment in the public sector on the paying fees to a union. As I mentioned on CNN last night, this is a major decision that is being pushed from the coverage but deserves more attention. As anticipated, Justice Alito wrote the decision and ruled against the union.

The fear going into this week was an ominous head count by the union. There is an effort on the Court historically to spread out the opinions. Every Justice had written majority opinions from the January calendar. All except the justice that the unions least wanted available: Justice Alito. Alito had written the decision two years ago in Knox v. SEIU, that the government violates the first amendment in allowing public-sector unions to force nonmembers to pay a special fee for the purpose of financing the union’s political activities. Most worrisome was the statement in Knox that, while the Court would not “revisit” the first amendment issues more generally raised in this area, it did say that the objection that nonmembers were being allowed to “free ride” on due paying members is “generally insufficient to overcome First Amendment objections.”

This could be a major blow for unions. The Court could use this decision to drive a serious wedge into the labor force and seriously undermine the financial position of unions. The unions argue that they are required to negotiate the best deal for non-union members like these home-care workers. Since they benefit from such union representation, they should have to pay their fair share according to the union. The State of Illinois also supports this arrangement because it allows for a more efficient single-negotiating party in these talks. However, these workers advance an array of claims from petition claims to free speech claims to associational claims in being effectively forced to support the union.

While the ruling is limited to home-care workers, it has broader implications for unions. This is one of the fastest growing segments of the workforce and the new model for future labor forces. The unions just lost that potential for growth as well as the dues that are being lost to these new forms of employment.

43 thoughts on “Harris v. Quinn: The “Other” Supreme Court Decision Today”

  1. If I run a business, I want to hire whomever I want, not be told I have to deal with the Union or go out of business.

    It’s like a legalized mob. . .

  2. Yeah!!!!

    Forcing someone to belong to a Union in order to be employed should be unconstitutional.

    Forcing those union members to contribute to Democratic party candidates and campaigns against their will through mandatory payroll political deductions should be unconstitutional. It forces people to contribute to parties against their will, or lose their jobs.

    Finally, the corrupt Unions might finally be broken. It’s like dealing with the mob. Try to get past them during a strike. They’ll physically attack you!

    And the Teachers Unions routinely defend convicted pedophiles from being fired, so they’ll have their nice, fat pensions to fall back on when they’re out of prison.


  3. Two great decisions for sanity and dialing back the big, bloated, statist leviathan called BIG government, and Ruth “Buzzy” Ginsburg looks even more constipated today than she normally does. Delicious…

  4. I see our supreme ecclesiastical court has ruled for Hobby Lobby. Here’s Cardinal Alito’s take:

    “This is a religious question and it’s a moral question,” added Justice Samuel Alito, suggesting the businesses have such a right. “You want us to provide a definitive secular answer.”
    Well, gosh golly-gee, yes we do.

  5. Another 5-4 decision…. It is a good day for the religious, anti-union conservatives. Corporations can have religious beliefs now.

  6. In Hobby Lobby the court ruled that the RFRA applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely held for-profit corporations like Conestoga, HL and Mardel.

    The Court says that the government has failed to show that the mandate is the least restrictive means of advancing its interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to birth control.

    Decision for Hobby Lobby.

  7. This could be a major blow for unions. The Court could use this decision to drive a serious wedge into the labor force and seriously undermine the financial position of unions.” – JT

    The middle class goes the way of the unions.

  8. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/06/samuel-alito-harris-quinn-supreme-court-union “Heading into Thursday, the Supreme Court had Harris and three other cases left to decide. The justices chose to issue their opinions concerning presidential recess appointments (Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board) and so-called buffer zones keeping protesters at a distance from abortion clinics (McCullen v. Coakley). Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal member of the court, wrote the Canning opinion; Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, took the lead in McCullen.

    This makes it more likely that Justice Samuel Alito, who we’ve yet to hear much from, will write the opinion in Harris, which points to bad news for public-employee unions. “There’s almost no question [Justice] Alito has this opinion unless he lost his majority along way,” tweets Rick Hasen, a University of California-Irvine law professor. “Anti-union is his signature issue.” ” In retrospect, Harriet Miers would have better

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