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Friday, April 1, 2016

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association: U.S. Supreme Court Deadlocks on Constitutionality of Public Employee Union "Agency Fees"

Just a quick word on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (SCOTUS 3/29/16), in which the U.S. Supreme Court appeared set to hold that forcing a public employee to pay for a union's non-political activities, such as collective bargaining, violates the employee's First Amendment rights. 

The death of Justic Scalia in February changed the calculus, and the Court announced on Monday that it is equally divided on the issue. In that situation, which we undoubtedly will see more of until Justice Scalia is replaced, the decision of the lower court stands. In Friedrichs, the Ninth Circuit held that under existing U.S. Supreme Court precedent, forcing public employees to pay such agency fees does not violate their First Amendment rights. 

The Court's per curiam opinion is here, but I'll save you the trouble of clicking on it. It reads, in its entirety: 
The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.
As the poet said, "Strange days indeed." 

The SCOTUSblog page for Friedrichs is here

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