Madison - St. Clair Record: Janus v. AFSCME oral arguments scheduled Feb. 26 at Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will hear oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME on Feb. 26, in a case challenging the constitutionality of compulsory union dues for state government workers. 

Plaintiff Mark Janus is employed as a child support specialist and has raised objections to policy positions of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, arguing that he does not agree with what he views as "the union’s one sided politicking for only its point of view."

He is currently required to pay union fees to AFSCME even though he opposes many of the union’s positions and feels he would be better off without the union’s so-called representation.

Represented by the Liberty Justice Center and National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Janus’ attorneys have asked the Supreme Court to restore the First Amendment rights of public workers and end the practice of requiring these American workers to pay money to a government union as a condition of employment, according to a release from the Liberty Justice Center. 

“Across 22 states, millions of government workers are forced to pay money to government unions that are intrinsically and openly political," said Jacob Huebert, director of litigation at Liberty Justice Center. "This is a gross violation of these American workers’ First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association.

"Mark Janus and the millions of civil servants like him – teachers, police officers, firefighters and others – should not be forced to check their constitutional rights at the door in order to do their jobs.”

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, offered the following comments: “As the Court noted in Knox v. SEIU, compelled speech under the guise of forced union dues is an ‘anomaly’ under the First Amendment. With arguments now scheduled in Janus v. AFSCME, we are another step closer to ending this egregious violation of the First Amendment rights of millions of public employees.”

Illinois is among 22 states that require some government workers to pay money to a union as a condition of employment. 

If the Supreme Court rules in Janus’ favor, it will impact more than 5 million public school teachers, firefighters, police officers and other government employees, according to the Liberty Justice Center. These workers currently are forced to pay money to union officials just to keep their jobs, but if Janus is successful would be free to decide individually whether or not financially support a union.