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By Eric Heinz

The Supreme Court announced plans to hear petitions for a case related to overturning a case that that gives states the ability to require public employees to pay dues to unions in lieu of not joining them during its October session.

In Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, the same argument is being made that it is unconstitutional to compel people who work for an agency to join or fund a union that Rebecca Friedrichs of San Clemente made in her 2015 appeal to the Supreme Court.

Rebecca Friedrichs. Photo: Courtesy of Free to Teach
Rebecca Friedrichs. Photo: Courtesy of Free to Teach

A list of other cases has been attached to the Janus arguments. The arguments made in the cases state that compulsory dues would violate the First Amendment in that unions frequently make contributions to political action committees that may not represent the same views as those who pay into them.

“As someone who has taught in the public schools for 28 years … in my view, every individual has the right to choose the organization that advocates on their behalf,” Friedrichs told the San Clemente Times in January 2016. “I admire the history of unions and the spirit in which they were born. But in recent years, unions have become what they used to fight: powerful, entrenched organizations.”

Friedrich’s case was on the docket for the Supreme Court last year, and it was looking like the court would overturn a case that required payments to a union, a law that was decided in 1977. However, former Justice Antonin Scalia died right as the discussion was approaching its apex. The court ruled 4-4 and the case law was never enacted.

The case, which has a fairly strong conservative backing, is now expected to overturn the 1977 case, as Justice Neil Gorsuch is likely to rule in favor of ending the requirement.

According to an analysis from the SCOTUS Blog, the petitions of the case could be heard this month. The exact date of the hearing has not yet been determined.

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