It’s time for the U.S. Supreme Court to restore government workers’ First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association. No government worker should be forced to pay for union politics as a condition of employment.
Washington, D.C. (Dec. 20, 2017) – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will hear oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME on Feb. 26, 2018. In this case, the Liberty Justice Center and National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation are representing plaintiff Mark Janus, a child support specialist for state government in Illinois. Janus’ attorneys have asked the High 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.
“Across 22 states, millions of government workers are forced to pay money to government unions that are intrinsically and openly political. This is a gross violation of these American workers’ First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association,” said Jacob Huebert, director of litigation at Liberty Justice Center. “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.”
Plaintiff Mark Janus is a child support specialist for state government in Illinois. Illinois is among 22 states that require some government workers to pay money to a union as a condition of employment. Janus 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.
If the High Court rules in Janus’ favor, First Amendment rights for more than 5 million public school teachers, firefighters, police officers and other government employees would be restored. 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.
The Liberty Justice Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest litigation center that fights to protect economic liberty, private property rights, free speech, and other fundamental rights in Illinois and beyond. First and foremost, the Liberty Justice Center seeks to ensure that the rights to earn a living and to start a business, which are essential to a free and prosperous society, are available not just to a politically privileged few, but to all. The Liberty Justice Center pursues its goals through strategic, precedent-setting litigation to revitalize constitutional restraints on government power and protections for individual rights.