STUMP » Articles » SCOTUS Doings: Public Employee Union Dues and Justice Kennedy Retiring » 28 June 2018, 03:54

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

SCOTUS Doings: Public Employee Union Dues and Justice Kennedy Retiring  


28 June 2018, 03:54

Dang it, I get distracted by some sweet sweet mortality results, and two big announcements come through.

Let me do the second first.


Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy Announces Retirement

His retirement opens pivotal vacancy on the high court going into midterm elections

Anthony M. Kennedy, one of the Supreme Court’s most consequential modern-day justices and author of landmark rulings on gay rights, the death penalty and campaign finance, announced his retirement Wednesday, handing President Donald Trump a historic opportunity to reshape the court.

“This letter is a respectful and formal notification of my decision, effective July 31 of this year, to end my regular and active status as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court,” Justice Kennedy wrote in a letter to the president.

That’s a bit more wordy than my last actuarial resignation, but not far off. And my last email there had the subject header “So long, farewell, auf weidersehn, goodbye…” — go out singing a song

Here’s the full letter:

Anyway, various legal watchers are gonna be do all their analyses, especially once they hear of Trump’s nominee. But that’s not my interest.

I’m gonna have to update my SCOTUS mortality calculations. Here was my part 2 of the mortality calculations.

Stay tuned!

In the meantime, this is is the list of possible Trump nominees… from his November 2017 list. I fully expect him to pick one off that list.


Other commentary on Kennedy retirement:

Will be a nice, quiet summer, right?


This is what I had to say about this case in February:

I think the biggest impact from an adverse ruling in the SCOTUS case would be on specific individuals — to wit, the union leaders who get a better-funded pension via their union and get paid nicely for “union organizing”.

If they have to convince people to stay members of the union, they may actually earn their money for “organizing”. When public employees were forced to pay fees, whether they want to be a union member or not, it makes one’s “organizing” job a hell of a lot easier, I would think.

Then there’s the various hangers-on of political campaigns. If public union campaign cash is drained away, there are a lot fewer ineffective campaign consultants who can be hired.


I don’t think that an adverse ruling by SCOTUS would actually kill public employee unions, and it definitely won’t kill the political power of public employees.

The hysteria more represents the very vested interests of specific individuals who profit from forced-fees-paying to have a job. They would definitely be affected – either they lose money, or they have to work a lot harder to keep the same money. Man, it’s tough being in a competitive biz.

So yes, the people who are paid to be in front of cameras and sending out press releases will be hysterical. Their jobs are on the line.

But the public employees will still have power, even if they don’t have a union.


From one who has been forced to pay fees to a union I wasn’t a member of when I taught at UConn (and who really wasn’t interested in the items they negotiated for), I would love Janus to come down where state employees are not required to be union members and are not required to pay fees if they’re not union members. But I am under no illusion that this will kill the political power of government employees.

They still have interests, and they still have the power to vote. It would take something like not allowing government employees or political officals to vote to remove some of that power… but those people also have friends and family who would vote their interests, too.

I can think of less radical “fixes”, but I think they would be more destructive than helpful. It’s like trying to fix human nature.

Just know that once people see political positions or government jobs as something they own, they will exercise their powers to keep these, and do not require any official unions for this.

I still think that, lo, these four months later.

In many union-dominated states, legislatures have passed laws to make it really difficult for people to opt out paying those dues (expect that to go to SCOTUS next), when their energy would be better spent convincing public employees of the value of being a union member.

It would be a good idea to at least start trying to convince people.


Other items on the ruling:

From that last one:

So how did AFSCME respond to the state’s requests for concessions? As Alito highlighted in the court’s majority opinion:

“Among other things, [AFSCME] advocated wage and tax increases, cutting spending “to Wall Street financial institutions,” and reforms to Illinois’ pension and tax systems (such as closing “corporate tax loopholes,” “[e]xpanding the base of the state sales tax,” and “allowing an income tax that is adjusted in accordance with ability to pay”).”

Changing tax structures, targeting individual groups or industries, and changing pension laws are all inherently political. The court came to that conclusion:

“To suggest that speech on such matters is not of great public concern—or that it is not directed at the “public square,” — is to deny reality.”

The court also noted that public sector union power has manifested itself in generous pension benefits – benefits that have proven to be increasingly punishing to the residents that are forced to fund them. Alito added in the majority opinion, “Illinois’ pension funds are underfunded by $129 billion as a result of generous public-employee retirement packages.”

Again, I think it doesn’t even require unions for public employees to elect the people who give them the most goodies.

But it does cut down on the organized negotiations.

It’s nice to see that public pensions did make part of the ruling, though.


Oh, this summer…. will be “fun”.

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