There is a way to tell if a Supreme Court justice is angry. If she is somewhat angry, her dissent reads “I respectfully dissent,” and if she is definitely angry, she leaves out the “respectfully.” If she is really, really angry, she leaves it out and reads her dissent aloud. Justice Elena Kagan wrote this scathing dissent.
Justice Kagan wrote the dissent against the 5-4 SCOTUS decision that ruled it was no longer acceptable to take fees from non-consenting public-sector employees, because it violated the First Amendment. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg joined her.
Kagan accused the ruling justices of “weaponizing” the First Amendment, according to The Huffington Post:
‘(By) turning the First Amendment into a sword and using it against workaday economic and regulatory policy. Today is not the first time the court has wielded the First Amendment in such an aggressive way; just yesterday we saw another and it threatens not to be the last.’
SCOTUS had just earlier ruled that a California law violated the First Amendment. The state law required crisis pregnancy centers (clinics) inform women about how to get low-lost contraception and abortions from the state.
Many justices on the court said during their hearings that they adhered to “stare decisis” or letting previous Supreme Court-established precedent stand. They must have changed their minds.
In their latest ruling, the majority of justices overturned a 1977 precedent in the Abood case. It allowed for public-sector unions to collect fees from non-union members for things like collective bargaining.
The Abood case ruled that this did not violate their First Amendment right to free speech. The new ruling seriously kicked the legs out from under unions.
Republicans do not like unions, because they support big business, and unions support the workers’ rights. In previous years, the GOP has weakened unions, and this substantial loss in fees means unions will further lose their ability to help employees.
Unions have been integral in supporting Democrats with on-the-ground support during campaigns and with financial contributions. They have been mutually supportive, but now all that has changed.
Conservative Justice Samuel Alito, formerly a big stare decisis fan, said the Abood ruling was poorly reasoned and wrongly decided.
Kagan disagreed, saying the court only decided to overturn the ruling to pick the winning side in a policy debate:
‘The court today wreaks havoc on entrenched legislative and contractual arrangement. Twenty-two states have enacted statutes authorizing agency fees. Every one of them will now need to come up with new ways — elaborated in new statutes — to structure relations between government employer and their workers.’
Featured Image via Getty Images/Alex Wong.