SCOTUS Urged to Hear PA Case

Member Group : Fairness Center

The Fairness Center
Contact: John Bouder, 570-490-1042, [email protected]

Fairness Center Signs Amicus Brief Urging SCOTUS to Hear Forced Union Dues Challenge

Landmark Case Could Free Thousands of Pennsylvania Public Employees

July 17, 2017, HARRISBURG, Pa.â€"Four Pennsylvania schoolteachers are getting their concerns heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nation’s highest court is poised to decide whether to consider Janus vs. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which presents a First Amendment challenge to mandatory union fees as a condition of public-sector employment.

In a similar case filed in January in federal court, Greg Hartnett of Homer-Center School District, Elizabeth Galaska of Twin Valley School District, and Rob Brough and John Cress of Ellwood City Area School District sued the Pennsylvania State Education Association to end compulsory union fees as a requirement of their jobs.

Now, these teachers and the Fairness Centerâ€"which, along with National Right to Work Foundation-provided staff attorneys, represents themâ€"have signed an Amicus Brief led by the Pacific Legal Foundation urging the High Court to hear the landmark case.

“My constitutional rights do not end when I set foot in the classroom,” commented Hartnett, an art teacher and father of five. “I should not be forced to fund a private, politically-active organization just to do what I love. A favorable Supreme Court ruling in Janus would likely free meâ€"and thousands of other Pennsylvania schoolteachersâ€"from this union bullying.”
At its core, Janus v. AFSCME asks the Supreme Court to overturn the 40-year-old ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which allowed public sector unions to force public employees to pay the union as a condition of employment. In recent years, the Court has suggested more than once that the underpinnings of Abood may be ripe for challenge.

“If we trust teachers to educate our kids, we should also trust them to decide whether or not to fund a union,” commented Nathan McGrath, vice president and chief litigation counsel for the Fairness Center. “This case gives the Supreme Court the opportunity to ensure free speech and free association rights apply to everyone.”

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case which also sought to end compulsory union fees for teachers. The tie effectively allowed union officials to continue forcing teachers to pay unions as a condition of employment.

Nathan McGrath is available for comment today. Contact John Bouder at 570-490-1042 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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