by Catherine Fisk, professor of law, U.C. Berkeley School of Law
*This is part of ACSblog's Symposium on Janus v. AFSCME
Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 presents a First Amendment challenge to Illinois public-sector labor-relations statutes and contracts that require union-represented employees to pay a fee to the union for services that the union is required by law to provide. Hundreds of such municipal and state laws have been on the books for over half a century in about half the states, and the Supreme rejected a First Amendment challenge to them in 1977 in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. To overturn this settled practice will upend labor relations affecting tens of thousands of teachers, first responders, health care providers, clerks, and other public servants. To rule for the challengers will also require the Supreme Court to make new law in the area of free speech with implications far beyond the working conditions of public employees.