The Supreme Court has wrapped up releasing its decisions today, and no decisions were released in the Obamacare or Arizona immigration law cases.
The key decision released today was a loss for SEIU on imposing fee assessments on non-members for political purposes. The case is being portrayed as perhaps more broad than it really is. I haven’t followed it closely, but the decision is here. At first glance, it appears to be a more technical reading of the law and what types of notice has to be given, than the “smackdown” it is being described as in reports.
Update on SEIU: Okay, on further reading, SEIU did get smacked down and has to follow an opt-in rather than opt-out procedure when imposing fees on non-members for political purposes:
In this case, we decide whether the First Amendment allows a public-sector union to require objecting nonmembers to pay a special fee for the purpose of financing the union’s political and ideological activities….
By authorizing a union to collect fees from nonmembersand permitting the use of an opt-out system for the collection of fees levied to cover nonchargeable expenses, our prior decisions approach, if they do not cross, the limit ofwhat the First Amendment can tolerate. The SEIU, however, asks us to go farther. It asks us to approve a procedure under which (a) a special assessment billed for use in electoral campaigns was assessed without providing anew opportunity for nonmembers to decide whether theywished to contribute to this effort and (b) nonmemberswho previously opted out were nevertheless required to pay more than half of the special assessment eventhough the union had said that the purpose of the fund was to mount a political campaign and that it would not be used for ordinary union expenses. This aggressive useof power by the SEIU to collect fees from nonmembers isindefensible….
To respect the limits of the First Amendment, the union should have sent out a new notice allowing nonmembers toopt in to the special fee rather than requiring them to opt out. Our cases have tolerated a substantial impingement on First Amendment rights by allowing unions to imposean opt-out requirement at all. Even if this burden can be justified during the collection of regular dues on an annual basis, there is no way to justify the additional burden of imposing yet another opt-out requirement to collect specialfees whenever the union desires….
Therefore, when a public-sector union imposes a special assessment or dues increase, the union must provide a fresh Hudson notice and may not exact any funds from nonmembers without their affirmative consent.
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