California public school teacher Rebecca Friedrichs along with eight other teachers, brought forth a challenge that argued should be overruled and public-sector “agency shop” arrangements invalidated under the First Amendment; and it violates the First Amendment to require that public employees affirmatively object to subsidizing nonchargeable speech by public-sector unions, rather than requiring that employees affirmatively consent to subsidizing such speech. Unfortunately, Justice Scalia’s untimely death resulted in a 4-4 deadlock and kept the Appeals Court decision that denied the challenge to .
The Court held five-to-four that an Illinois requirement that nonunion Medicaid-funded home-care personal assistants pay union fees violates the First Amendment. The Court refused to extend Abood, which upheld forced fees imposed on public employees to the extent that they are used for collective bargaining, to the “new situation” before it, “[b]ecause of Abood’s questionable foundations, and because the personal assistants are quite different from full-fledged public employees.” This holding renders unconstitutional similar forced-fee schemes imposed on providers in at least thirteen other states.
In 2005, the California State Employees Association (CSEA) union, a local affiliate of the SEIU, imposed a “special assessment” on every civil servant in its bargaining unit to pay for a campaign to defeat several California ballot initiatives. The Court Supreme Court struck down the scheme in a precedent-setting ruling issued on June 21, 2012 that applied strict scrutiny to forced union dues or fees for the first time. The Court’s majority ruled that government union officials must obtain affirmative consent from workers before using workers’ forced union fees for union politicking.
A six-member majority of the Court rejected arguments that the strict scrutiny test should be used when determining whether requiring public employees to pay agency fees to keep their jobs violates the First Amendment. The Court ruled that the agency shop as such is constitutionally valid, but only “insofar as the service charges are applied to collective-bargaining, contract administration, and grievance-adjustment purposes.” The Court unanimously agreed that “a union cannot constitutionally spend [objectors’] funds for the expression of political views, on behalf of political candidates, or toward the advancement of other ideological causes not germane to its duties as collective-bargaining representative.”