In a stunning 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down an Illinois law forcing public sector employees to support unions they don’t belong to and don’t agree with.
Mark Janus, a social worker at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, found himself in a difficult position. In order to keep his job, he was forced to pay thousands of dollars to a union that he doesn’t believe in—the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
According to the Chicago Tribune, 74 percent of the union’s political contributions went to Democratic committees or organizations from 2013 to 2017.
In effect, the government was forcing Janus to support a political organization he does not support.
Nationwide big labor spent $1.7 billion on politics and lobbying during the 2016 election cycle—mostly giving to Democrats. This decision won’t stop unions from supporting Democrats, but it takes the government out of the equation.
The question before the Supreme Court was whether the government can compel people like Mark Janus to subsidize politically active labor unions.
And today, the Court answered with a resounding NO.
Justice Alito writes for the majority:
When speech is compelled, however, additional damage is done. In that situation, individuals are coerced into betraying their convictions. Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable is always demeaning, and for this reason, one of our landmark free speech cases said that a law commanding “involuntary affirmation” of objected-to beliefs would require “even more immediate and urgent grounds” than a law demanding silence.
This story is being updated.