Vacant court seat delays right-to-work decision

Mar 31, 2016

BY: Citizens Count

On Tuesday, March 29 the U.S. Supreme Court announced they were split four-to-four in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case about the ability of unions to collect dues.  That essentially puts the case on hold until a ninth justice is appointed.

Under current case law, unions can to compel non-members to pay dues so long as those dues only pay for contract negotiations, not lobbying or other political activity.  Supporters of this law argue that it is only fair for non-members to pay dues if they benefit from the contracts negotiated through collective bargaining.

Rebecca Friedrichs is a California teacher who sued the California Teachers Association union over this rule.  She argued that all union activities are political, because unions advocate for certain policies during collective bargaining.  For example, a union might advocate for certain classroom sizes or pension policies. 

If Friedrichs won her case, unions would no longer be able to compel non-members to pay dues, essentially forcing all states – including New Hampshire – to adopt right-to-work policies.  So long as the U.S. Supreme Court is split on the issue, the previous ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in favor of the fee collections stands.

However, lawyers representing Friedrichs said they will ask the court to revisit the case when a ninth justice is appointed.

That means the next U.S. Supreme Court appointee will essentially decide whether states must adopt right-to-work.

President Obama has chosen a nominee, but there is a movement in the U.S. Senate to block this nomination until a new president takes office in 2017.  New Hampshire’s Sen. Kelly Ayotte supports the efforts to block a nominee.  Sen. Jeanne Shaheen wants the Senate to consider the nominee.

How do you think the court should rule in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association?  Does this case impact your opinion on the nomination process for the next U.S. Supreme Court justice?  Share your thoughts in the comments.


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Right-to-Work Law | 1 comment(s)
Should NH pass right-to-work legislation?


Kelly Ayotte

Former Senator, US Senate (2011 - 2016); NH Attorney General (2004 - 2009)

Jeanne Shaheen

Senator, U.S. Senate (2008 - present); NH Governor (1996 - 2002)

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