Supreme Court: Mandatory Union Dues Violate First Amendment

By Brittany Jones, Esq., policy manager for Family Policy Alliance®

Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

And just this week, Justice Alito echoed Jefferson in a monumental opinion where the Supreme Court reversed its own prior decision: “Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned.”

The Supreme Court in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council affirmed that the government can no longer compel the sort of funding that Jefferson abhorred through mandatory union dues for government employees. And by doing so, the Court for the second time this week, protected First Amendment rights to free speech and to freely live out one’s faith.

What is this case about?

This case challenges an established practice that allowed public sector unions to charge what is known as “agency fees.” In union states, this arrangement allows an employee to opt out of a portion of the union dues that are supposedly used for political activity. The fees are typically similar to, but a bit lower than, union dues.

This case centers around an Illinois public employee, Mark Janus. He challenged the agency fee system that was set up in the 1977 Supreme Court case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. He argued that collective bargaining in public sector unions is inherently political and that forcing employees to pay any dues to an inherently political entity violates the First Amendment rights of public employees.

The Union, on the other hand, argued that without these fees they would not be able to survive and represent the employees well. Further, they argue that non-union employees benefit from their efforts and should at least pay some fees.

What did the Court say?

The Court decided that laws that compel a government employee to support a public sector union violate free speech rights by forcing an employee to support a message that they disagree with.

Justice Alito reiterated why free speech is so important to upholding our democratic system of government. Further he decried government-compelled speech because “individuals are coerced into betraying their convictions. Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable is always demeaning.”

Once again, as in Masterpiece and NIFLA, the Court protected the rights of conscience of all people. It affirmed our right to think, act, and speak on the topics that most affect us and refused to allow the government to compel us to speak when we wish to remain silent.

What does this mean going forward—for Believers and for union states?

Twenty-eight states are already right-to-work states, which means that employees do not have to pay union dues. This ruling will not directly affect those states, but it will have a huge effect on states that don’t give employees this freedom. To learn more or opt out of union dues follow this link: https://www.optouttoday.com/other-public-sector-union.

For Believers everywhere, in union states or in right-to-work states, the Janus opinion this week further strengthens our freedom to speak freely about biblical principles in the public square. We can promote the value of life, the good of marriage between one man and one woman, and the importance of religious freedom.

And, of course, we can support elected leaders and organizations who share our values. If you live in a state where you were forced to pay union dues to fund advocacy that you disagreed with, you are now free to send your dollars to organizations and causes that align with your beliefs.

If you would like to support Family Policy Alliance’s 2018 election efforts to see pro-family, pro-religious freedom candidates (who have been through our thorough vetting process) elected to office in both state and federal races, please partner with us here.

In his Stoplight® commentary, Stuart Shepard shares 14 things that are unassailably true about the NFL protest, the First Amendment and Mr. Trump.

Whether you agree or disagree with the players who are kneeling during the anthem, whether you think President Trump’s coarse language in saying they should all be fired was spot on or not fitting for a president, you’ll want to consider this sharp opinion on how all of this should play out in a free society.

And most of all, what this says about some other people who are fighting for the right to protest, but who are not getting nearly as much attention.

Thank you for sharing Stoplight with your friends.

College students are shouting down conservative speakers, breaking windows and smashing cars. NFL players are taking a knee during the national anthem, wanting their protest to be seen every week on national television.

Whatever you may think of these highly publicized protests, it says something about America, and it also says something about your freedom to speak up and bring about change – whether as an individual, a business owner or a church.

Paul Weber, president and CEO of Family Policy Alliance; Tom Minnery, our president emeritus; and other members of our team made this video to encourage you to exercise your right to free speech, to engage the debate and to unleash your citizenship.

 

If it seems to you that attacks on Americans’ religious freedoms continue to grow, you’re right.  A comprehensive new report details the attacks – and documents a 133-percent increase since 2011.

The report is titled “Undeniable.” It’s a project of First Liberty, a leading legal advocate for religious freedom and a longtime close ally of Family Policy Alliance.

In addition to the dramatic growth in religious liberty violations since 2011, the report also provides the year-over-year increase, including a 15-percent rise in just the last year.  But more than just giving a count of such violations, this 420-page resource offers details on every violation.

Download the report, and then spread the word.  “Undeniable” is a great resource for pastors and policymakers, and it’s a good tool to inform friends who may be in the dark about this growing problem.

 

It’s hard to believe the back-to-school routine of busy mornings, school lunches and homework is upon us again — or will be very soon.

Have you ever thought about how so much of the debate about education is not focused on the kids who are being educated? Many school districts (and the Obama Administration) forced the transgender issue on children as young as kindergarten in the past year, by requiring curriculum changes or forcing young girls to share locker rooms and showers with men and boys.

Children don’t lose their First Amendment rights to religion and free speech when they walk into their classrooms, but school policies increasingly act like they do. And, in many states, efforts to enhance the freedom of families to choose the best education for their child are often dead-in-the-water because powerful, well-funded teachers’ unions oppose giving families that freedom. There are even school-based healthcare clinics that can give your daughter an abortion-causing drug without your knowledge or consent.

This is why we need your help and the help of Christian families across the country. It’s not enough to raise our kids in the church — especially when liberal agendas are working hard to counter the biblical training parents and churches are giving our children.

In the next few months, Family Policy Alliance will be unveiling a new project designed to launch kids to success. We believe it’s time to take Planned Parenthood and LGBT activist groups out of the classroom and put solid education back in it. We believe it’s time to help kids express their religious beliefs in a way that reflects Christ, rather than forcing them into silence. And, we believe it’s time for families to drive education needs. Specifically, we’ll be working to:

Please partner with Family Policy Alliance today to launch children to success.

baltimore-pregnancy-center-graphic

A federal judge has ruled that pregnancy centers in the greater Baltimore area do not have to promote any message other than the message of life.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the City Council had moved to force the pro-life centers to post signs discouraging women from using their services and pointing them to abortion sellers.

“No government or pro-abortion group has the right to invade the privacy of national pro-life organizations,” said attorney Matt Bowman with Alliance Defending Freedom, “simply to grind an ideological axe.”

The ordinance is similar to laws now on the books in California and Illinois where Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are working to protect crisis pregnancy centers from government overreach.

“The court’s decision in this case,” Bowman said, “will provide persuasive precedent to defend free speech there and in other states. This is an important First Amendment victory.”

Some NFL players are protesting by kneeling during the national anthem. In his Stoplight commentary, Stuart Shepard sets aside the controversy for a moment and considers the important principles underlying that right to protest, and considers what they mean for Christians.

What if the First Amendment locked your faith inside a box? Some public officials apparently would like to keep you and your Christian ideas squirreled away where they won’t have to hear you.

In his Stoplight® commentary, Stuart Shepard explores this issue using his favorite artistic medium: cardboard and duct tape.

House Subcommittee Hearing

Today a House committee heard a bill that would protect people of faith from government discrimination. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee heard the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA).

Last summer when the U.S. Supreme Court redefined marriage, Justice Samuel Alito asked Donald Verrilli, solicitor general, whether such action might lead to a Christian college or university losing its tax exempt status if it believed marriage to be between one man and one woman.

“It’s certainly going to be an issue,” Verrilli answered. “I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is going to be an issue.”

Now one year later, we have even more examples of infringement on religious freedoms. And lawmakers are trying once again to pass FADA.

“Our government was charged with protecting the religious freedom of its people,” said Autumn Leva, policy director at Family Policy Alliance. “No American should be shunned by their own government for believing in God’s design for marriage as our country did for decades before the Supreme Court’s decision.”

CHURCH ROOF AND CROSS

A pamphlet put out by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission has churches wondering if they may be forced to allow men access to women’s restrooms in places of worship.

The brochure argues that since churches are public places, they are required to comply with sexual orientation and gender identity laws.

First Liberty Institute is representing Cornerstone World Outreach, a church in Sioux City. Hiram Sasser is the group’s director of litigation.

“It (the Commission’s brochure) further compels our client to use specific pronouns when referring to certain gender identities,” he told Todd Starnes of Fox News, “and prohibits our client from even teaching its religious beliefs.

“Cornerstone World Outreach cannot be made to open its restrooms for use by individuals in accordance with their gender identities, rather than their sex assigned at birth.”

The Family Leader of Iowa is one of Family Policy Alliance’s nearly 40 state-based family policy groups. They’re concerned the free speech of pastors could be next.

“Banning what preachers can say? That kind of government intrusion into church doctrine is exactly what the Bill of Rights was written to prevent,” said Bob Vander Plaats, executive director of the group. “But when Iowa’s policy effectively becomes, ‘Call it a sin, and the government steps in,’ we no longer have a First Amendment. Even talking about God’s design for male and female might make someone feel ‘unwelcome’ and prompt government action. That’s wrong.”

Paul Weber, president and CEO of Family Policy Alliance, said it was clearly the next move by activists.

“We’ve known that this would never stop at civil unions, equal rights, or marriage,” he said. “This has always been on the agenda and churches must realize they are not immune from this fight. If they want to maintain their religious freedom, they’re going to have to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’.”