No, SEIU, SCOTUS Says You Have to Keep Your Grabby Hands Out of Other People' Pockets!

And a good thing, too.

Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, lives in a place where the streets are paved with gold. They are allowed a closed shop: if you want to work, you have to join the union, or pbay union dues anyway. But even so, they can’t make their members pay for their political advertising/strongarming/etc – they can only force non-members to pay for union stuff, not political ad stuff.

SEIU Local 1000 sent out their regular dues notice one fine summer morning, claiming that 56.35% of its total expenditures in the coming year would be dedicated to legitimate
collective-bargaining activities, and the remaining portions used for contributions to the Democratic party (or whatever else counts).

Shortly thereafter, two propositions for public referendum came to light: Propositions 75 and 76. Proposition 75 would have required unions to obtain employees’ consent before charging them fees to be used for political purposes, instead of the current opt-out method; Proposition 76 gave the Governor the ability under some circumstances to reduce state appropriations for public-employee compensation. Naturally, the unions viewed these with alarm. So they sent out a special notice, announcing an “Emergency Temporary Assessment to Build a Political Fight-Back Fund." It bumped up fees by 25% and did not allow anyone to opt-out.

To complaints, an SEIU area manager responded that “even if [the employee] objected to the payment of the full agency fee, there was nothing he could do about the September increase for the Assessment.” “She also stated that ‘we are in the fight of our lives,’ that the Assessment was needed, and that there was nothing that could be
done to stop the Union’s expenditure of that Assessment for political purposes.”

Lawsuits ensued.

After the Supreme Court accepted cert, the SEIU suddenly remembered that there WAS something they could do, offered full refunds, and then asked the Court to rule that the matter was moot, since, hey, no harm, no foul.

Thankfully, that did not happen.

So: BZZZT! Nope.

And now, the meat of the matter: can SEIU chisel additional political fees out of non-members with no chance for them to say no?

Obviously, no. BZZZT to the Ninth Circuit for saying otherwise.

Another sharp, and well-deserved, rebuke to a public sector union. Yipppeee!

I like the shrill *Yippieee *at the end. That really makes it seem classy.

Got link? How did the decision break down among the justices?

Mootness. Learned a new word today, though my spellchecker freaked on it, suggesting moistness in its place.


Or possibly yepee!

I wonder why I’m suddenly thinking again about that thread in Elections about the politicization of the Supreme Court…?

PDF link

It was 7-2 with Breyer and Kagan in dissent.

Yippee ki-yay?

So it’s ‘opt-in’ instead of a mandate to pay… (obvious PDF is obvious)

7-2 for the result

Breyer and Kagan dissented.

Sotomayor and Ginsburg concurred in the result: “When a public-sector union imposes a special assessment intended to fund solely political lobbying efforts, the First Amendment requires that the union provide nonmembers an opportunity to opt out of the contribution of funds. I therefore concur in the Court’s judgment.”

Authored by Alito, with Roberts, Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas on the majority opinion.

Proved by noted conservatives Sotomayor and Ginsburg?

This sounds reasonably sensible to me. I don’t know enough to say for sure, but it seems if they have the right to opt out normally, a special assessment should have that same right.

I actually agree with the decision.

But my freedom of association interpretation would also allow closed shop unions to refuse membership to people who didn’t like unions. Let them find another association to join or not.

Yes, of course. And what do you think of SEIU’s attempt to moot the case? (Which, in truth, is really the reason for my glee: seeing that shot down).

That seems like so much of a no-brainer that I’m interested to see how the minority came up with their opinion.

The court has dealt with mootness a few times. It was an issue in Roe v. Wade. They don’t seem to look kindly on denying someone the right to appeal through the court just because some circumstance of the case changes. Particularly if the situation is likely to continually repeat itself.

Right smart of them to deal with the matter while it was on their table.

I think they would have had a better shot if they had actually issued the refunds before asserting that the matter was moot.

The exception to the mootness doctrine in Roe was that such actions would invariably be moot by the time they heard them.

Big deal. It was a piddly case about giving notice to non-members about the political portion of fees, which they already have a right to opt out of.

I don’t get all this anti-union stuff. Why do people think it’s progress to make sure other workers make less just because they do?

Sorry, I should have clarified: I wasn’t thinking about the justices, I was thinking about the atmosphere of the OP.

I feel that a big part of a reason for it is because of people reacting to, and using, rulings to advance personal political agendas (that’s how we get the justices that get complained about to begin with). I don’t think that celebrating rulings like this as some kind of “smackdown” does the situation any favors.

(Pardon if my words are a bit fuzzy. Long day yesterday.)

Actually they applied an exceptionusing language from Joseph McKenna. A case “capable of repetition, yet evading review” could be decided, even though it otherwise would be moot.