In the first of many important rulings expected from the Supreme Court this summer, Chief Justice Roberts and his conservative majority dealt a blow to public sector labor unions in the Knox v. SEIU case last week. The case revolved around the SEIU’s temporary raising of dues in order to fight two anti-union propositions on the ballot in California, circa 2005. The temporary 25 percent increase was done without a Hudson notice, which explains where all union dues are being spent. The conservative court ruled that this infringed on the free speech of the non-members.
With Knox v. SEIU, Chief Justice Roberts has proven again that the Supreme Court under his conservative majority is going to brazenly become a player in politics instead of acting as the essential cog in our nation’s system of checks and balances. What’s worse, by inserting language into the majority opinion about opt-in procedures, Justice Alito and the rest of the majority gave new legal precedence to “Right-to-Work” laws which were not originally part of the case. The minority opinion rebuked the court for its maneuvering:
To reach this decision, Justice Sotomayor explained in an opinion joined by Justice Ginsburg, “the majority breaks our own rules and, more importantly, disregards principles of judicial restraint that define the court’s proper role in our system of separated powers.” Under the court’s rules, only the questions set out in the appeal are to be considered by the court.
In an interesting though perhaps merely symbolic move, DailyKos is promoting an action that calls for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to propose legislation requiring corporations to get opt-in permission from shareholders in order to be allowed to use company resources for political purposes. Again, the likelihood of such a law is slight, but it does get the justice juices flowing. If the Corporate Court wants to hold union political donations to a higher standard of transparency, why not hold corporate political donations to the same standard? After all, Roberts and company made sure on Monday that corporate money is here to stay.