Monday, April 04, 2016

U.S. SUPREME COURT - Split on Labor Union Case

"Without Scalia, Supreme Court splits on union fees case" PBS NewsHour 3/29/2016


SUMMARY:  The Supreme Court split 4-4 on a case on whether unions can collect fees from government employees who choose not to join.  The outcome was an unlikely win for unions and a stark example of the impact of Justice Antonin Scalia's death.  Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the new dynamics of the divided court.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  We turn now to the Supreme Court, where today’s 4-4 split was an unlikely win for labor unions, and a stark example of the impact of Justice Scalia’s death.

For more on today’s highly anticipated decision, and the new dynamics of the divided court, we are joined by Marcia Coyle, chief Washington correspondent for “The National Law Journal.”

So, welcome back, Marcia.

MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal:  Thanks, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Actually, two interesting developments at the court today, but let’s start with that labor union case first.

Remind us of the — what the arguments were on each side.  And this took place when Justice Scalia was still alive.

MARCIA COYLE:  That’s correct.

The arguments were heard earlier this year.  The case was brought by a group of California public schoolteachers who were not members of the public employee union in California.  They claimed that having to pay what are called agency fees or fair share fees to the union that actually is required by law to represent all of the public school teachers violated the teachers’ First Amendment speech and association rights.

During the oral argument, Judy, it appeared that the court was going to rule for the teachers.  It looked like the decision might well have been 5-4, with the five conservative justices in the majority and needing Justice Scalia to make that majority.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, today, we learned that the court is divided.  The eight justices on the court are divided, one-line statement.

MARCIA COYLE:  A very common way they handle 4-4 ties or splits.  It’s called a per curiam decision, an unsigned decision in which the court simply states that the decision below is affirmed by an equally divided court.  We don’t know who voted how.

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