For now, at least, unions are back in business. Yesterday the Supremecons-minus-one lost a decision that would have significantly weakened unions had Antonin Scalia were still a member of the Court's team of radical justices.
The Supreme Court handed organized labor a major victory on Tuesday, deadlocking 4 to 4 in a case that had threatened to cripple the ability of public-sector unions to collect fees from workers who chose not to join and did not want to pay for the unions’ collective bargaining activities.
It was the starkest illustration yet of how the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month has blocked the power of the court’s four remaining conservatives to move the law to the right.
A ruling allowing workers to refuse to pay the fees would have been the culmination of a decades-long campaign by a group of prominent conservative foundations aimed at weakening unions that represent teachers and other public employees. ...NYT
The Times report underlines the efforts of big money to crippled unions and underlines the kind of bought-'n'-paid-for decisions that have come -- one could fairly assume -- from a Court whose "conservative" justices are hardly shy when offered fringe bennies like hunting trips and luxury travel.
Senate Republicans -- slow to even meet with the President's choice of Merrick Garland to join the Court -- began to hustle yesterday.
Senator Mark S. Kirk of Illinois on Tuesday became the first Republican to meet with Judge Merrick B. Garland and said he hoped the meeting would influence other Republicans to at least sit down with President Obama’s choice to fill a Supreme Court vacancy despite pressure from party leaders not to consider his nomination.
“We need rational, adult, open-minded consideration of the constitutional process,” said Mr. Kirk, who is perhaps the most endangered Senate Republican up for re-election this fall. “He’s been duly nominated by the elected president of the United States to fill a vacancy which we know exists on the court.” ...NYT
The Washington Post explains how the 4-4 split led to this outcome.
Conservative groups direc
tly asked the court to overturn the 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which favored the unions. That ruling said states could allow public-employee unions to collect fees from nonmembers to cover the costs of workplace negotiations but not to cover the union’s political activities. More than 20 states allow the fees.
During oral arguments, it appeared that the conservative groups would get their wish. Scalia had actually been the best hope for unions beyond the four liberal justices. But his questions seemed to make clear that he sided with the challengers.
When the court is evenly split on a case, it affirms the decision of the appeals court that considered the case. In this case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said it was bound by the Abood decision and turned down the challenge. ...WaPo
The Wall Street Journal sees this decision as a temporary setback.
Conservative groups said they were disappointed with the ruling, though not surprised by the deadlock following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. They voiced optimism that similar pending cases could wind their way up to the high court. The National Right to Work Foundation said its staff attorneys have five cases working their way through courts to seek an end to mandatory union dues and fees.
“The issue is not going away and could return to the High Court soon,” said Patrick Semmens, the group’s vice president, in a statement. “We fully expect the constitutionality of forced unionism to be back before the Supreme Court before too long.” ...WSJ
And now the ball is back in the Senate's mitt. Or back on Mitch McConnell's long s*it list.
ORANGE CITY, Iowa — Chuck Grassley isn’t changing his mind on whether Merrick Garland should be confirmed to the Supreme Court this year. But he’s convinced he will have to vote on Garland anyway.
In a series of town halls in northwest Iowa this week, the Judiciary Committee chairman predicted that Senate Democrats ultimately will use a parliamentary maneuver to force a vote on Garland — a rare move that would amount to a major affront to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who controls the Senate floor.
“There’s nothing we can do about it. Under the rules of the United States Senate, that resolution can be offered anytime,” Grassley told reporters after a Tuesday town hall here, referring to a procedural maneuver called a motion to discharge. “A Republican could offer it.”
The Judiciary Committee chairman candidly acknowledged that the maneuver would put Republicans in a difficult position politically. ...Politico