Policy Forum

Should Public‐​Sector Workers Be Forced to Pay Union Fees?: A Preview of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

February 15, 2018 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM EST

Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute

Featuring Raymond J. LaJeunesse Jr., Vice President and Legal Director, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation; Donald B. Verrilli Jr., Partner, Munger, Tolles & Olson and former Solicitor General of the United States; and Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute; moderated by Trevor Burrus, Research Fellow, Cato Institute.

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On February 26, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a case that has the potential to overturn a 40‐​year‐​old precedent (Abood v. Detroit Board of Education) that allows public‐​sector unions to charge nonmembers “agency fees.” Currently, half the states have laws that enable such fees. Mark Janus—an Illinois state employee but not a union member—objects generally to being required to pay AFSCME, as well as to these funds being used to support the union’s ongoing legal fight against the governor’s policy reforms. Janus sued the union for violating his First Amendment rights by compelling these payments. In addition to their responses to that constitutional claim, AFSCME and Illinois have argued throughout the litigation that stare decisis—the prudential doctrine regarding judicial respect for settled precedent—demands that Abood be maintained. Cato filed a brief discussing the historical underpinnings of stare decisis and contending that a proper understanding of stare decisis actually demands that Abood be overturned. Please join us for a discussion of a case pitting workers’ rights against union rights and state powers—one that may accomplish the rare feat of reversing Supreme Court precedent.