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Supreme Court Takes Up Janus v. AFSCME

Sep 28, 2017

The Buckeye Institute’s Amicus Brief Called for Protection of 1st Amendment

Columbus, OH – This morning, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear Janus v. AFSCME, which The Buckeye Institute asked the court to take up in its amicus brief, supporting Mark Janus and the First Amendment. In its brief, filed on July 7, 2017, Buckeye showed that unions can survive without compelled contributions and, alternatively, that this change will lead unions to better serve their members.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court will take up this crucial case to protect the First Amendment rights of public employees,” said Robert Alt, president and CEO of The Buckeye Institute. “Forcing employees to pay for speech with which they disagree and forcing them to pay fees to a union in order to keep their jobs is unjust and unconstitutional. We are confident that Mr. Janus will prevail and that the court will rule in favor of the First Amendment rights of all public employees.”

Illinois, among other states, forces public sector employees who opt out of their union to pay an agency fee, which is supposed to support the union for collective bargaining services, including lobbying on behalf of the union. As a result, Mr. Janus, a child support specialist with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, is forced to pay fees to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a government union, in order to keep his job.

Highlighting how union compelled fees undermine the First Amendment, Mr. Janus said in a January 2016 op-ed in the Chicago Tribune:

“I went into this line of work because I care about kids. But just because I care about kids doesn’t mean I also want to support a government union. Unfortunately, I have no choice. To keep my job at the state, I have to pay monthly fees to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, a public employee union that claims to ‘represent’ me...

“The union voice is not my voice. The union’s fight is not my fight. But a piece of my paycheck every week still goes to the union. I am not anti-union. Unions have their place. And some people like them. But unions aren’t a fit for everyone. And I shouldn’t be forced to pay money to a union if I don’t think it does a good job representing my interests.”

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