Opinion analysis: Result but no guidance on public unions’ fees

Source: Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog, March 29, 2016

The most important labor union controversy to reach the Supreme Court in years sputtered to an end on Tuesday, with a four-to-four split, no explanation, and nothing settled definitely. The one-sentence result in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association will leave intact, but on an uncertain legal foundation, a system of “agency fees” for non-union teachers in California — with the legal doubts for public workers’ unions across the nation probably lingering until a ninth Justice joins the Court at some point in the future.

The practical effect was to leave undisturbed a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which had simply found itself bound by a prior Supreme Court precedent upholding such fees against constitutional challenge. The Ninth Circuit had before it a case specifically filed as a test of that precedent, and only the Supreme Court could revisit that prior ruling, binding on all lower courts…..

Friedrichs Opinion
Source: Juhyung Harold Lee, OnLabor blog, March 29, 2016

In case you missed it, the Supreme Court has handed down a 4-4 affirmance of the lower court’s opinion in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The Court’s 1977 opinion in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education thus remains good law, and public-sector unions may continue to collect agency fees from nonmembers.

A Narrow Escape for Public-Sector Unions
Source: Matt Ford, The Atlantic, March 29, 2016

The justices split 4-4 in Friedrichs v. CTA, leaving a pro-union ruling in the lower courts intact. …. Tuesday’s deadlock means that the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in favor of the teachers’ union will stand. But it also signaled that Justice Anthony Kennedy, who almost certainly joined Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas on one side of the split, would be willing to overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the decision that became the basis for public-employee contracts. That tosses the precedent’s ultimate fate to the next justice who serves on the Court. ….

Supreme Court Deadlocks On Challenge To Union Fees
Source: Nina Totenberg, NPR, March 29, 2016

Split Supreme Court Means A Win For Public Sector Unions
Source: Chris Geidner, BuzzFeed News, March 29, 2016

The Supreme Court split 4-4 on a case over public union fees for non-members, leaving in place a lower court decision that allows the fees to continue.

Mandatory Union Fees Survive as U.S. Supreme Court Deadlocks
Source: Greg Stohr, Bloomberg, March 29, 2016

BREAKING: The Biggest Legal Attack On Unions In Decades Is Dead
Source: Ian Millhiser, ThinkProgress, March 29, 2016

Supreme Court deadlocks over public employee union case; Calif. teachers must pay dues
Source: Robert Barnes, Washington Post, March 29, 2016

SCOTUS 4-4 decision hands public sector unions a victory
Source: Ariane de Vogue, CNN, March 29, 2016

Unions Win Fee Victory as Supreme Court Ties 4-4
Source: Adam Liptak, New York Times, March 29, 2016