Janus v. AFSCME: A Case to Protect Public Employees’ First Amendment Rights
With their billion dollar forced dues machine, Big Labor has managed to hold an iron-fist over public sector employees and forced them to pay tribute to a union boss just to get or keep a job.
That grip may soon come to an end with one Foundation case seeking to end forced dues or fees for all public sector workers, Janus v. AFSCME, poised to be heard by the Supreme Court.
About the Case
On February 9, 2015, relying on the Supreme Court’s decision in Harris v. Quinn (more information below), newly elected Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner issued an executive order prohibiting state agencies from enforcing state bargaining agreement provisions requiring nonmember state employees to pay union fees and directing that any fees deducted be placed in escrow pending the resolution of litigation over the constitutionality of the forced fee provisions. On the same day Governor Rauner sued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the unions collecting forced fees from state employees for a declaratory judgment that the forced fee provisions violate the First Amendment and that his executive order is valid.
On March 23, 2015, Foundation staff attorneys filed a motion, eventually granted by the court, to intervene as plaintiffs for Mark Janus and two other Illinois state employees who are compelled to pay union fees as a condition of their jobs. Their accompanying complaint requested not only a declaratory judgment, but also an injunction against and damages from the unions to which they are compelled to pay fees.
Although the court eventually ruled that Governor Rauner did not have standing necessary to file his lawsuit, the challenge continues on behalf of the three employees. On July 2, 2015, the Attorney General moved to stay the case pending the Supreme Court’s decision in Friedrichswhich the court granted on July 8, 2015. After deadlock in Friedrichs left in place union bosses forced dues powers for the time being a District Court judge dismissed the case citing Friedrichs.
The Foundation along with the Liberty Justice Center, filed an appeal to the Seventh Court of Appeals in October 2016. Hearings were held on March 1st 2017. On March 21, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the Illinois district court which ruled that the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education precedent applied to Janus v. AFSCME. The decision by the Seventh Circuit, which was expected, allows Foundation staff attorneys to next file a writ of certiorari to ask the United States Supreme Court to take the case.
About Mark Janus
Mark Janus works at the Illinois Department of Healthcare Services as a child support specialist. To read an op-ed that Mark wrote in the Chicago Tribune please click here.
He is forced to pay union dues or fees for the privilege of working for his own state government.
Selected Media Coverage
Mark Janus Op-ed (Chicago Tribune)
Supreme Court asked to take up fight over mandatory union fees (Washington Examiner)
All eyes on Illinois case that could change U.S. labor law (Illinois News Network)
A Supreme Court Absence is Felt (Wall Street Journal Editorial)
Janus in the Court – Podcast Featuring lead attorney Bill Messenger (Federalist Society)
Amicus Briefs in Support of Petitioner
Pacific Legal Foundation, Linda Chavez, Goldwater Institute,The Fairness Center, Gregory J. Hartnett, Elizabeth M. Galaska, Robert G. Brough, Jr., John M. Cress, Pioneer Institute, Inc., and Empire Center for Public Policy, Inc. Amicus Brief