In another ruling today, SCOTUS held 5-4 that public sector unions cannot compel dues from non-members who are not “full-fledged” public service workers.
Union leaders had feared that the justices might strike down those state laws [requiring public service workers who are not union members to pay dues anyway] as unconstitutional. The justices did not go that far. They issued a more narrow ruling that the home health care workers at issue in the case are not “full-fledged public employees” because they are hired and fired by individual patients and work in private homes, though they are paid in part by the state, via Medicaid.
Because they’re not truly state employees, the justices decided these workers did not have to pay union dues…
…[I]n writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito sharply criticized a 1977 precedent, known as Abood, that granted states the right to compel union dues. Alito called that ruling “questionable” and “anomalous,” all but inviting a further challenge in the future. He was joined in his opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy.
Alito cited a “bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.”
Seems pretty obvious to me. But it’s not the least bit obvious to the liberal justices. And if it were struck down it would toll the death knell for public service unions, and the unions know it.
Anyone who still doesn’t understand how important it is to elect a Republican president in 2016, please realize that rulings on cases of this sort would go very differently if one of the conservative justices on the Court (Scalia, who is 78, for example, or even swing vote Kennedy, who is 77) retires and a Democrat gets to choose his successor. In other words, a Democratic president in 2016 could easily turn the Supreme Court into a reliably and consistently liberal institution, marginalizing the remaining conservative justices entirely.
And saying it doesn’t matter who appoints justices because Roberts (appointed by Bush II) sometimes votes with the liberals, and Kennedy (appointed by Reagan) votes with liberals about half the time, is hardly the point, because (a) judges appointed by Democratic presidents will always vote with the liberals, as opposed to just sometimes; (b) three out of the five justices appointed by Republican presidents vote very consistently conservative; and (c) the oldest justice, Ginsburg (who is 81), is most likely the one to retire soon, and if she holds out till after Obama’s term his successor will be appointing her replacement, giving a Republican president the opportunity to make the Court quite consistently conservative.
In other words, the next president could determine the direction of the Court for the next decade or more. And that’s just the Supreme Court; the same is true for other federal courts, because a president gets to make such appointments during his/her term of office, too.
This is enormously important in helping shape the country’s direction in a wide variety of ways. Plus, although a more conservative Court cannot by itself stop a tyrant who is intent on grabbing more power from doing so, it can certainly do its bit to help or to hurt.
Remember back in Obama’s first term, when he acted on Honduras to support Zeleya’s power grab and block his removal? Most people were not paying much attention, but it was highly significant. Time to revisit what the controversy was actually about:
Mr. Zelaya, a frequent critic of the U.S., has been locked in a growing confrontation with his country’s Congress, courts, and military over his plans for the referendum — planned for Sunday — that would have asked voters whether they want to scrap the constitution, which the president says benefits the country’s elites.
The Supreme Court had ruled the vote was illegal because it flouted the constitution’s own ban on such referendums within six months of elections. The military had refused to take its usual role of distributing ballots. But Mr. Zelaya fired the chief of the army last week and pledged to press ahead.
So fairly early in his first term Obama attempted to defend Zeleya’s power grab against Honduras’ constitution, its military, and its Supreme Court’s attempt to limit him. It was a very ominous sign for the future, as I wrote:
It’s not a mere question of Obama looking on and doing nothing while a Chavez-inspired Zelaya grabs more power; I could understand non-intervention in the Honduran process. But Obama has gone out of his way—in a manner that contradicts his own stated preference for the autonomy of other nations—to actively intervene in Honduran affairs in order to protect Zeleya and his undermining of Honduran due process and its constitution.
There is no benign explanation for this policy of Obama’s. If the American people don’t understand what it tells us about him, it would mean that we have failed to understand history and learn from it.
The Supreme Court is one of the bulwarks against such power grabs, although it can’t stop them by itself. And although the recent 9-0 ruling against Obama’s pretend-recess appointments may be a sign that, if the executive’s offense were especially egregious, even the liberals on the Court might decide to vote against Obama, there’s no question that putting more liberals on its bench is flirting with danger and asking for trouble.