— by Ian Millhiser
When the Supreme Court met last January to hear an aggressive attempt to defund public sector unions, the news looked grim for organized workers. All five of the Court’s conservatives seemed ready to accept the plaintiffs’ legal arguments, a result that would have potentially had catastrophic financial consequences for many unions.
Then Justice Antonin Scalia died, and the anti-union litigants lost the fifth vote they needed to prevail.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court announced the widely expected consequence of Scalia’s encounter with his own mortality. In a single-sentence order, the Supreme Court announced that the judgment of a lower court rejecting this effort to defund public sector unions “is affirmed by an equally divided court.” Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is dead. A four-decade-old opinion protecting public sector unions shall live to see another day.
Friedrichs was an attack on what are alternatively…
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