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SCOTUS split 4-4 on Friedrichs case yesterday: Buckeye's response? Until we meet again...

Mar 30, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio—In the wake of yesterday's decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, The Buckeye Institute offered commentary across the state and around the country to help make sense of the Supreme Court's ruling. We continue to fight for the First Amendment rights of all public employees.

The Supreme Court 4-4 decision in the Friedrichs case was not surprising in its result, but the timing was certainly unexpected.

Contrary to the assertions of groups that opposed the First Amendment rights of workers, which prematurely praised the Supreme Court for deciding that mandating speech is good policy, the decision yesterday did no such thing. Buckeye President Robert Alt wrote a piece for National Review that is worth a read, in which he explains the significance of the case and this "non-decision."

Alt, a legal and constitutional scholar, has written extensively on this case in national legal publications. The Buckeye Institute filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in this case as well arguing that public school teachers, including lead plaintiff Rebecca Friedrichs, should not be forced to pay fees to unions in support of speech with which they disagree. In a conference call yesterday hosted by The Federalist Society discussing the outcome of Friedrichs, preeminent law professor Richard Epstein of the New York University School of Law praised Buckeye's amicus brief as being among the best filed in the case.

Robert Alt was at the Supreme Court on January 11 during oral arguments in the case to show support to plaintiff Rebecca Friedrichs and to stand behind The Buckeye Institute's amicus brief.

After the Supreme Court's decision came down yesterday, Alt fielded dozens of reporters' questions, held a press advisory conference call, and gave a radio interview to Associated Press Ohio through WOSU public radio that provided more context for the decision. The radio hit is short and worth a listen.

Newspapers from the Columbus Dispatch to Dayton Daily News and the Twinsburg Bulletin to the Crescent-News cited Buckeye, and we are pleased to continue The Buckeye Institute's streak of publicly commenting on timely and important policy and legal issues, particularly ones where we have been actively fighting for good policy to prevail.

Twenty-five states, including Ohio, still force public employees to pay some union agency fees in order to keep their jobs, even if the employees disagree with the political speech the unions support with those funds. The Friedrichs case demonstrates the necessity of replacing Justice Scalia with someone who will continue to uphold our constitutional rights to free speech. And it demonstrates the necessity of continuing to fight every day to ensure that the First Amendment rights of all public-sector workers are protected.

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Founded in 1989, The Buckeye Institute is an independent research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states.