Janus v. American Federation

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Labor Law
  • Date Filed: September 28, 2017
  • Case #: 16-1466
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 851 F.3d 746
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether mandatory public-sector agency fees are compelled speech, in violation of the First Amendment.

Petitioner is a public employee who pays union agency fees in compliance with Illinois state law, but is not a union member. Petitioner intervened in a federal lawsuit filed by the Governor of Illinois, seeking to overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), which upheld the practice of mandatory union agency fees as constitutional speech if the fees are used for costs germane to collective bargaining. The federal district court dismissed the case, holding that only the U.S. Supreme Court can overrule Abood, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. On appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Petitioner argues that mandatory union agency fees deprive non-union, public employees' First Amendment right to choose whether the union may speak on their behalf when negotiating with the government. Petitioner contends public sector unions' purpose is to lobby policy issues to the government, which is not germane to collective bargaining. Petitioner asserts that the Court, in Knox v. SEIU, Local 1000, 567 U.S. 298 (2012), called union agency fees into doubt by rejecting the "free-rider arguments" from which Abood relies. Because of Knox and other recent Supreme Court holdings, Petitioner asks the Court to overrule Abood on First Amendment grounds.

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