Atlantic Legal Files Supreme Court Brief Supporting Employee Rights


Wednesday, December 6, 2017 – Mamaroneck, New York – The Atlantic Legal Foundation filed its amicus curie brief today with the United States Supreme Court in support of Petitioner Mark Janus’ claims seeking to assert his constitutional free speech rights, and to terminate the legal requirement in Illinois that non-union-member, state employees must pay mandatory union dues, even though Mr. Janus disagrees with union political activities.

Petitioner Mark Janus is an Illinois state employee who objects to paying union fees, which are currently a condition of his employment under state law. He is being forced to pay agency fees to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (“AFSCME”), Council 31. AFSCME exclusively represents over 35,000 state employees who work in numerous departments, agencies, boards, and commissions that are part of the executive branch of the Illinois state government.

Illinois state law grants public sector unions the power to be the exclusive representative for Illinois state employees for negotiating rates of pay, wages, hours, and other conditions of employment. Illinois law follows the decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), which enabled the compulsory union fees that public employees can be required to pay, even if they are not members of the union.

The Atlantic Legal Foundation supports Mr. Janus and those in many other states in the free exercise of their First Amendment right to liberty of conscience, which includes the right to be free from compelled support of political activities, including the political activities of public employee labor unions. There is no practical distinction between negotiations between public employee unions and government units or agencies as employers, and “lobbying” because such bargaining activities involve the essential political enterprise of allocating government resources and shaping government policies. These issues include such matters as pay and benefits, seniority, job security, promotion and discipline, measurement of employee performance and efficiency, and lay-offs.

Consequently, Atlantic Legal filed its amicus curie brief supporting the position that Abood v. Detroit Board of Education should be overruled, and that public sector agency fee arrangements should be declared unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Atlantic Legal’s primary argument is that the free speech protections of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution are violated when an employee is compelled to pay dues to a labor union, when the employee disagrees with the union’s public policy positions.

For more information, please access Atlantic Legal’s brief here: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FOUNDATION’S BRIEF