Today, the United States Supreme Court is hearing arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a critical free speech case in which the Civitas Institute Center for Law and Freedom (CLF) joined an amicus brief last year. The case presents the question of whether a state employee can be forced to pay union dues to a public sector union with which that employee disagrees politically. In other words, can a state employee be forced to bankroll political expression with which they do not agree? The plaintiff, Rebecca Friedrichs, does not think she should have to do this as a condition of being a public school teacher.
The Left has ratcheted up its rhetoric in terms of vilifying the case — an indicator of its potential impact. The Huffington Post has expressed concern that the Supreme Court could crush public sector unions. Meanwhile, The American Prospect fears that a favorable outcome for the plaintiff could lead to more religion in schools. And the Daily Kos referred to the case as just one more episode in Justice Alito's crusade against unions.
One thing the Left does not seem at all concerned about is free speech. Here, a teacher's attempt to free herself from compelled political expression clashes with the progressive orthodoxy. When pressed on the fact that she is ostensibly allowed to opt out of paying for the union's political activity and support only its collective bargaining efforts, Friedrichs provided this response:
Here in California, most public officials have been put into office by union dollars. So you’ve put them into office and now you come to the bargaining table. The official you put into office is one side and the union is on the other side and you’re bargaining for taxpayer money, only the taxpayer doesn’t get invited to the table. That’s political, in my opinion.
Collective bargaining is being used to push for things that I would never agree to…We’re being asked to fund collective bargaining that’s highly political using taxpayer money and I don’t have a choice.
After hearing arguments today, the Supreme Court should reach a decision by this summer.