The Buckeye Institute Files Amicus Brief in Janus v. AFSCME Supporting Free Speech

Jul 20, 2017

Columbus, OH – The Buckeye Institute filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in the case Janus v. AFSCME, supporting Mark Janus and the First Amendment. In the brief, Buckeye shows that unions can survive without compelled contributions and, alternatively, this change will lead unions to better serve their members. 

“Forcing employees to pay for speech with which they disagree is a violation of their First Amendment rights,” said Robert Alt, president and CEO of The Buckeye Institute. “Neither Mr. Janus, nor anyone else, should ever be forced to pay fees to a union just to keep their jobs. Such compulsion is fundamentally unjust and unconstitutional.”

Illinois, among other states, forces public sector employees who opt out of the 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, to keep his job.

As 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.”

The Buckeye Institute’s amicus brief was filed on July 7, 2017.