Supreme Court Orders School Board, Union Officials to File Response Brief
Washington, DC (July 28, 2021) – Amicus support is pouring in from around the country for a U.S. Supreme Court petition filed by two Chicago public school teachers, Ifeoma Nkemdi and Joanne Troesch, with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Their class-action lawsuit against the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Chicago Board of Education challenges a union boss-created “escape period” scheme that blocks workers from exercising their right to terminate dues deductions from their paychecks outside the month of August. In June, Foundation staff attorneys filed the petition for writ of certiorari with the High Court, seeking review of a Court of Appeals decision allowing the “escape period” restriction on the exercise of the teachers’ First Amendment rights recognized in the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision.
Now others are urging the Justices to hear the case.
Attorneys General for Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia filed an amicus brief for their States asking the Supreme Court to hear the teachers’ case challenging the Chicago Teachers Union scheme that locks teachers into union dues payments.
The States’ brief argues union officials are engaging in widespread violation of public employees’ rights under Janus and that the Court ought to hear Troesch and Nkemdi’s case to stop these violations:
In Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, 138 S. Ct. 2448 (2018), this Court held that state employees have a First Amendment right not to be compelled to subsidize union speech. That is because forcing individuals to subsidize speech with which they disagree violates the “bedrock principle” that “no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.” Harris v. Quinn, 573 U.S. 616, 656 (2014). Unions thus cannot extract dues unless there is “clear and compelling” evidence that the state employee waived his or her First Amendment rights. Janus, 138 S. Ct. at 2486.
But Janus has been ignored. Across the country public-sector unions have resisted Janus’s instructions and devised new ways to compel state employees to subsidize union speech. Unions place onerous terms on dues forms that prohibit state employees from opting out of paying dues except during narrow (and undisclosed) windows during the year. Unions refuse to inform state employees that they have a First Amendment right not to pay union dues. And unions refuse to stop collecting dues despite unequivocal employee demands. The result is that tens of thousands of state employees across the country are having dues deducted to subsidize union speech without any evidence that they waived their First Amendment rights….
This case implicates these precise concerns. Respondents—the Chicago Board of Education (“Board”) and the Chicago Teachers Union (“CTU”), a public sector union—took dues from Petitioners’ wages without proof that the employees waived their First Amendment right not to subsidize the union’s speech. The Seventh Circuit’s decision upholding their actions warrants this Court’s review.
In addition to the 16-State brief, other amicus briefs filed by the Goldwater Institute, Cato Institute, Freedom Foundation, and Liberty Justice Center all bolster the teachers’ argument that the Supreme Court should take up the teachers’ case and ensure that Janus is being fully enforced.
On Tuesday the Court ordered the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Board of Education to file a response brief, a possible signal at least some Justices are interested in taking up the case.
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