SCOTUS Echoes Jefferson on Dues and Don'ts

What a difference one Supreme Court justice makes and who gets to appoint judges. For all his sins, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should always be remembered as the one who legally kept Merrick Garland off the Supreme Court and let President Trump appoint Neil Gorsuch instead. If anyone need a reason to vote more Republicans to the U.S. Senate in November, the rulings on the travel ban and compulsory union dues are two very good ones.

With the travel ban, SCOTUS reaffirmed the primacy of the President on immigration and border security as enshrined in both the Constitution and U.S. law.  As Rush Limbaugh noted on his show, President Trump’s travel ban is lawful under 8 U.S Code 1182, and there is ample historical precedent for employing its bestowed authority to ban any class of aliens at any time,  for any reason if the President deems the national security of the United States requires it:

Here is number eight US Code 1182, inadmissible aliens. This law was written in 1952. It was passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress, House and Senate, and signed by a Democrat president.

“Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by president. Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, the president may, by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

On Wednesday, SCOTUS struck a blow for liberty and free speech when it ruled in another 5-4 decision that union dues can no longer be extracted from members who object to having money forcibly taken from them to support political causes and candidates the employee opposes:

In its 5-4 ruling Wednesday in Janus vs. AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), the Supreme Court overturned decades-old precedent that allowed government unions to require public employees to pay union fees or risk being fired.

Now millions of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other government employees across the country gain the freedom to decide if paying a union is a worthwhile proposition. This is how it should have always been -- no one should be forced to finance an organization he or she disagrees with.

The Supreme Court found that forcing public employees to pay union fees as a condition of employment violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. This is because government unions are inherently political.

Mark Janus, the lead plaintiff in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, is a former Eagle Scout who works as a child support specialist at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, quoted Thomas Jefferson in his lawsuit who said:  “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” 

Indeed it is, and it is one of the principles that separate us from the totalitarian and authoritarian governments around the world. It formed a key part of the majority’s argument:

…the justices said “agency shop” laws requiring nonunion government workers to pay union fees violate the First Amendment rights of workers who object to the political agenda of public employee unions.

“Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito, author of the court’s opinion.

Alito noted that union contracts do not trump, no pun intended, the Constitution, and that members cannot be compelled to surrender their First Amendment Rights:

Under Illinois law, if a public-sector collective bargaining agreement includes an agency-fee provision and the union certifies to the employer the amount of the fee, that amount is automatically deducted from the nonmember’s wages. No form of employee consent is required. This procedure violates the First Amendment and cannot continue.

Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay. By agreeing to pay, nonmembers are waiving their First Amendment rights, and such a waiver cannot be presumed.

Before Janus, the unions were engaging in predatory and coercive activity that would not be allowed in the private sector, as noted by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner:

“This case was one of the most important cases in decades for the freedom of speech and freedom of association,” Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview days before the decision. “This case is also about the battle against conflicts of interest and corruption.”

“Unions are making campaign contributions to elected officials, getting them into office and then they are negotiating their contracts with these same officials. In the private sector, you would go to jail for this kind of activity,” Rauner said.

The Janus decision goes a long way toward draining the swamp and forcing swamp things like public sector union bosses to stop feeding at the taxpayer’s trough and look elsewhere for sustenance. This decision could cripple public sector union and change the political landscape for 2018, 2020 and beyond:

The Illinois Economic Policy Institute estimates that 726,000 workers would choose to stop paying dues if they had that choice, which public sector workers in many states currently do not…

The loss of union members and their dues could be particularly challenging in blue states, according to the IEPI report. Public sector union membership would decrease by an estimated 189,000 members in California, 136,000 members in New York, and 49,000 members in Illinois.

Here’s a grand idea -- pass a national right to work law. In the meantime, Trumpers need to “get their asses” to the polls in November to elect more Republican senators to confirm and put another Gorsuch on the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Janus is just the beginning. Let’s make America constitutional again.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.               

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