Competitive Enterprise Institute Files Supreme Court Brief in First Amendment Challenge to Forced Union Dues

The Competitive Enterprise Institute today filed an amicus brief in support of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a case submitted to the United States Supreme Court concerning First Amendment rights and forced union dues for non-labor union members.

The brief documents how union-backed government officials are colluding with labor unions to force public workers to pay for political and ideological advocacy, in violation of their First Amendment rights. This advocacy includes speech promoting severe gun control laws, pro-Hillary Clinton rallies, a “direct action” protest march against a Trump hotel, and even advocacy for the United States to adopt the metric system and for public funding for Planned Parenthood.

“The right to free speech also includes the right not to speak,” said Andrew Grossman, a partner with the firm of Baker & Hostetler, which filed the brief pro bono on CEI’s behalf. “State governments and labor unions seem to have forgotten that. The Supreme Court should remind them.”

“Millions of public employees will be freed from being compelled to financially assist a union as a condition of employment if this legal challenge succeeds,” said Trey Kovacs, a CEI labor policy expert. “Workers have a right to decide for themselves whether to pay for labor union representation and the political agenda that comes with it.”

The case challenges an Illinois law that requires state employees, from librarians to bus drivers to teachers, to associate with and subsidize the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) via “agency fees,” which are forced union dues paid by non-union members. Prior Supreme Court decisions require that agency fees be limited to funding activity related to collective bargaining. But the reality is that the money goes to fund core political speech, from negotiations with the government over public pensions to advocacy on seemingly every controversial issue under the sun; from LGBTQ rights and campaign-finance reform to trade policy.

The court is expected to decide in September whether to hear the case.

> View the amicus brief on