While most citizens in America are not forced to allocate funds to promote ideas with which they personally disagree, not all citizens are given this ability, especially teachers. Teachers who do not live in right-to-work states (like Tennessee) can be compelled to send a portion of their salary to groups that advocate for messages with which they heartily disagree. This issue manifests itself in cases like that of Rebecca Friedrichs, who intentionally withdrew from her union because it was lobbying against reforms that would prevent child molesters from working in schools, among other things. Even after she withdrew from the teacher’s union, Friedrichs was still required to allocate part of her salary to support the cause she wholeheartedly opposed. Her story was widely publicized because of the injustice of her situation. In the past, we have worked to try and reverse this ruling by signing onto briefs in support of Ms. Friedrichs and we even had the pleasure of meeting her (that’s me in the back-right corner).
This repulsive exception to the otherwise perfectly clear First Amendment is attributable solely to an outdated and malformed Supreme Court case that allows for it. This archaic precedent is foul and was rightly thought to be dead in everything but name only. Last year Ms. Friedrichs’ case was argued before the Supreme Court, which initially seemed promising. Unfortunately, the untimely death of Justice Scalia changed the expected outcome with the Court ultimately splitting into a 4-4 tie. Ms. Friedrichs saw her victory slip through her fingers.
However, there is a hope for reform since there is a new Justice in the Supreme Court, and the issue is percolating in the lower courts. It won’t be long before this contentious issue gets settled at the high court. We should all be hopeful that it is resolved and that this controversial issue is laid to rest. Regardless of your opinion on unions, no one in America should ever have to pay to support a message they find offensive.