Case will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 26
On February 12, attorneys for Illinois public servant Mark Janus filed the final brief in the Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME. The final brief asks the High Court to recognize that the First Amendment protects public workers from being required to make payments to union officials as a condition of working for their own government.
Plaintiff Mark Janus is an Illinois child support specialist who filed the challenge with free legal aid from the Liberty Justice Center and National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Janus is among more than 5 million government workers across America who must pay money to a union as a condition of employment. In Illinois, Janus is required to pay union fees to AFSCME even though he opposes many of the positions union officials advocate and is not a member of the union.
“AFSCME and the State of Illinois have not shown and cannot show that unions’ desire to keep taking money out of government workers’ paychecks is more important than the workers’ fundamental First Amendment right to choose which advocacy groups they will and won’t support,” said Jacob Huebert, director of litigation at Liberty Justice Center. “We’re optimistic that the Supreme Court will recognize this and restore workers’ rights.”
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following comments about the case: “Mandatory union fees are the largest regime of compelled speech in the nation, and it is long past time that public employees’ First Amendment rights be protected from being forced to subsidize union officials’ speech. We are hopeful that by the end of the Supreme Court’s term it will issue a decision ensuring that union payments for public employees like Mr. Janus are strictly voluntary, at which point the challenge will be enforcing those protections for millions of government workers.”
For video footage of Mark Janus and more information about the case, visit: https://standwithworkers.org
Background information: In the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case, a divided High Court ruled that public employees could not be required to subsidize many political and ideological union activities; however the court left in place forced fees used to subsidize union monopoly bargaining with the government. In a series of cases in the last five years the Supreme Court has questioned the theory underpinning Abood.
In the National Right to Work Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU (2012) and Harris v. Quinn (2014) cases, the Supreme Court made clear that mandatory union payments invoke the highest level of First Amendment protection. In Janus, Mark Janus’ attorneys ask the Supreme Court to apply this heightened scrutiny to all mandatory union payments required of government employees. Oral arguments will be on Monday Feb. 26 at 10:00 a.m. ET.
If the High Court rules in Janus’ favor, First Amendment rights for more than 5 million public school teachers, firefighters, police officers and other government employees would be restored. These workers currently are forced to pay money to union officials just to keep their jobs, but if Janus is successful would be free to decide individually whether or not financially support a union.
Source: Press release from Liberty Justice Center