Harris v Quinn more important than Hobby Lobby?

posted at 1:21 pm on June 30, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

In terms of direct impact on overreaching government power, perhaps the decision getting the least attention today is the most intriguingHarris v Quinn addressed a movement in several states — Illinois in this case, but also in Minnesota and others — to force people into public-employee unions even though they are not directly employed by government, but privately employed and paid in part through public aid. The decision in this case narrowly centered on that distinction, but offers a window into a path for broader rollbacks of forced participation in PEU funding:

The Supreme Court dealt a blow to public sector unions Monday, ruling that thousands of home health care workers in Illinois cannot be required to pay fees that help cover the union’s costs of collective bargaining.

In a 5-4 split along ideological lines, the justices said the practice violates the First Amendment rights of nonmembers who disagree with the positions that unions take.

The ruling is a setback for labor unions that have bolstered their ranks — and bank accounts — in Illinois and other states by signing up hundreds of thousands of in-home care workers. It could lead to an exodus of members who will have little incentive to pay dues if nonmembers don’t have to share the burden of union costs.

But the ruling was limited to this particular segment of workers and it stopped short of overturning decades of practice that has generally allowed public sector unions of teachers, firefighters and other government workers to pass through their representation costs to nonmembers.

This AP read misses one essential fact from the Harris opinion, which is that it’s not about “nonmembers” at all, but about non-employees. “PAs are much different from public employees,” the court held in the majority opinion. The appellate court had found in favor of Illinois using Abood, which upheld the demand for “agency fees” from employees in a union shop that refused to join the union and/or objected to dues going to political activities. But Abood assumes that the union’s collective bargaining benefits non-members as well as members, which is only true if they have the same employment status.

That’s not the case in Harris, which means that agency fees cannot be collected:

The Illinois Legislature has taken pains to specify that personal assistants are public employees for one purpose only: collective bargaining. For all other pur­poses, Illinois regards the personal assistants as private­ sector employees. This approach has important practical consequences.

For one thing, the State’s authority with respect to these two groups is vastly different. In the case of full-fledged public employees, the State establishes all of the duties imposed on each employee, as well as all of the qualifica­tions needed for each position. The State vets applicants and chooses the employees to be hired. The State provides or arranges for whatever training is needed, and it supervises and evaluates the employees’ job performance and imposes corrective measures if appropriate. If a state employee’s performance is deficient, the State may dis­charge the employee in accordance with whatever proce­dures are required by law.

None of this applies to the PAs, nor does the state assume any liability for the conduct of PAs, either. The intrusion of state-imposed unionization of individual homes and employment would “invite problems,” chiefly on where to draw the lines:

Consider a continuum, ranging, on the one hand, from full-fledged state employees to, on the other hand, individuals who follow a common calling and benefit from advocacy or lobbying conducted by a group to which they do not belong and pay no dues. A State may not force every person who benefits from this group’s efforts to make payments to the group. See Lehnert, 500 U. S., at 556 (opinion of SCALIA, J.). But what if regula­tion of this group is increased? What if the Federal Gov­ernment or a State begins to provide or increases subsidies in this area? At what point, short of the point at which the individuals in question become full-fledged state em­ployees, should Abood apply?

If respondents’ and the dissent’s views were adopted, a host of workers who receive payments from a governmen­tal entity for some sort of service would be candidates for inclusion within Abood’s reach. Medicare-funded home health employees may be one such group. See Brief for Petitioners 51; 42 U. S. C. §1395x(m); 42 CFR §424.22(a). The same goes for adult foster care providers in Oregon
(Ore. Rev. Stat. §443.733 (2013)) and Washington (Wash. Rev. Code §41.56.029 (2012)) and certain workers under the federal Child Care and Development Fund programs (45 CFR §98.2).

Clearly this anticipates a much wider claim of government authority had Harris proceeded along the path granted by the lower courts.

However, the problems for PEUs don’t end there with the Harris opinion. The fate of Abood, which allows for forced collection of agency fees, looks potentially gloomy, depending on whether it gets challenged on its own. Justice Samuel Alito strongly hints that Abood itself might get reversed if directly challenged:

The Abood Court’s analysis is questionable on several grounds. Some of these were noted or apparent at or before the time of the decision, but several have become more evident and troubling in the years since then.

The Abood Court seriously erred in treating Hanson and Street as having all but decided the constitutionality of compulsory payments to a public-sector union. As we have explained, Street was not a constitutional decision at all, and Hanson disposed of the critical question in a single, unsupported sentence that its author essentially aban­doned a few years later. Surely a First Amendment issue of this importance deserved better treatment.

The Abood Court fundamentally misunderstood the holding in Hanson, which was really quite narrow. As the Court made clear in Street, “all that was held in Hanson was that [the RLA] was constitutional in its bare authori­zation of union-shop contracts requiring workers to give ‘financial support’ to unions legally authorized to act as their collective bargaining agents.” 367 U. S., at 749 (emphasis added). In Abood, on the other hand, the State of Michigan did more than simply authorize the imposition of an agency fee. A state instrumentality, the Detroit Board of Education, actually imposed that fee. This pre­sented a very different question.

This case did not challenge Abood but rather its extension to private-sector employees paid in part with subsidies from the state. That’s probably why the 5-4 majority didn’t summon the will to directly address Abood, but Alito has done everything except send semaphore signals to interested parties that might want to take a whack at overturning it. That would address the issues of PEU reform at its core by essentially mandating open shops in public-sector bureaucracies.

The direct ruling on Harris is bad enough for PEUS, but it may mean something worse down the line. For politicians looking to sell out home health-care workers to curry favor with union donors, it’s the end of one part of the gravy train, and an end to a potential line of reasoning that may have trapped a much wider part of the private sector into the government’s web of control and corruption.


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Harris v Quinn more important than Hobby Lobby?

…I thought it was very important…and I hear crickets today.

JugEarsButtHurt on June 30, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Depends
 

I’m hoping for a series of “unfortunate” accidents to happen to Hobby Lobby stores and the Greens.
 
jim56 on June 30, 2014 at 1:16 PM

rogerb on June 30, 2014 at 1:26 PM

…I thought it was very important…and I hear crickets today.

JugEarsButtHurt on June 30, 2014 at 1:24 PM

That is because this one probably requires a tad more thought and all of the cool kids are rendering their garments over the Hobby Lobby decision.

307wolverine on June 30, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Harris v Quinn more important than Hobby Lobby?

Important? Yes. More important? No.

Stoic Patriot on June 30, 2014 at 1:29 PM

For winning elections, Harris v Quinn is way more important.

sentinelrules on June 30, 2014 at 1:31 PM

I really don’t understand how a state thought they could do this.

ladyingray on June 30, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Alito has done everything except send semaphore signals to interested parties that might want to take a whack at overturning it.

Definitely a bigger deal.

ElectricPhase on June 30, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Harris v Quinn is more important Hobby Lobby, because we need to break the back of unionism if we want a chance to create a decent country again.

thuja on June 30, 2014 at 1:34 PM

I really don’t understand how a state thought they could do this.

ladyingray on June 30, 2014 at 1:32 PM

I think it may have been more a matter of trying to get away with it

captnjoe on June 30, 2014 at 1:36 PM

“I’m hoping for a series of “unfortunate” accidents to happen to home healthcare workers and their wards.”

-jimbo

Bishop on June 30, 2014 at 1:36 PM

That is because this one probably requires a tad more thought and all of the cool kids are rendering their garments over the Hobby Lobby decision.

307wolverine on June 30, 2014 at 1:28 PM

It’s more simple than that. Forcing Hobby Lobby to pay the bill for abortions resonated with the stupid shrill women that think Hillary Clinton is a wonderful human being. Their birth canals contract at the very thought that society might not be based on and solely exists as a support system for their sexual organs.

Public sector unions simply don’t generate the kind of passion one gets from a “buy your own birth control” ruling.

Happy Nomad on June 30, 2014 at 1:37 PM

I think it may have been more a matter of trying to get away with it

After all, they did manage to fill their political coffers for a couple years before they were stopped.

captnjoe on June 30, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Hobby Lobby was, fundamentally, a case that represented fascism vs liberty. Compared to Harris, it’s a simple case.

The Supreme Court dealt a blow to public sector unions Monday, ruling that thousands of home health care workers in Illinois cannot be required to pay fees that help cover the union’s costs of collective bargaining.

I think that to a large extent, the linkage of those fees to ‘costs of collective bargaining’ is little more than a canard or misdirection. The real impact and use of those fees, by the unions, was for funding and assisting the union’s preferred politicians in their campaigns for office.

This is one of the first steps, not to limit the ability of public sector unions to contribute to political campaigns, in effect working to elect those who are supposed to negotiate with the unions, but on limiting the union’s sources of funds.

Combine this with some of the legislation passed, for example in Wisconsin, which limits public sector unions, and there is a real threat to those unions and their corrupt behaviors.

Athos on June 30, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Harris v Quinn more important than Hobby Lobby?

I knew this instinctively. The leftist illiberal regressive rats are still in the “scumhags victimhood” mode.

Tomorrow they’ll esplode.

Schadenfreude on June 30, 2014 at 1:37 PM

I strongly believe Harris v. Quinn is more important, especially since Hobby Lobby was decided on very narrow grounds. Alito essentially invited a challenge to Abood.

Meanwhile, Mark Dayton and his goons get their butts handed to them. Bravo.

Mr. D on June 30, 2014 at 1:38 PM

What does this ruling say to Obama’s attempts, through Executive Orders, to impose conditions upon government contractors that Congress has been unwilling to?
Does Lockheed-Martin have to raise the Minimum-Wage for those working on government contracts? Does anyone engaged on a gov’t contract at L-M work for the Min-Wage?
There even could be a challenge under this ruling to agency-shop agreements.

Another Drew on June 30, 2014 at 1:38 PM

rogerb on June 30, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Typical Lefty comment. Hope he/she/it gets banned from here.

Johnnyreb on June 30, 2014 at 1:44 PM

It’s insane that they forced in-home workers to pay these fees as non-members in the first place.

changer1701 on June 30, 2014 at 1:45 PM

fees that help cover the union’s costs of collective bargaining.

LOL. Like those products on TV that are “free” … except for “shipping and handling” that costs enough to cover the shipping and a healthy profit.

The fact is that any sort of closed union shop (which includes “fees” for shipping and handling without requiring membership) for ANY business is un-Constitutional. Closed shops in government are even worse and an affront to everything America was built on and represents.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 30, 2014 at 1:46 PM

O/T BREAKING: the three Jewish teenagers abudicted have been found shot to death in a shallow grave.

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2014/06/breaking-bodies-of-three-israeli-teens-found-in-west-bank/

Religion of peace strikes again.

jawkneemusic on June 30, 2014 at 1:47 PM

abudicted should be abducted*

jawkneemusic on June 30, 2014 at 1:48 PM

Alito has done everything except send semaphore signals to interested parties that might want to take a whack at overturning it [Abood].

Yes, I was hoping there is a case in the pipeline already… maybe that he had in mind.

If nothing’s in the pipeline yet, then lawyer up! This window may not be open long.

petefrt on June 30, 2014 at 1:52 PM

O/T BREAKING: the three Jewish teenagers abudicted have been found shot to death in a shallow grave.

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2014/06/breaking-bodies-of-three-israeli-teens-found-in-west-bank/

Religion of peace 7th Century death cult strikes again.

jawkneemusic on June 30, 2014 at 1:47 PM

FIFY.

hawkeye54 on June 30, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Hey mark dayton…..BITE US…..

crosshugger on June 30, 2014 at 1:59 PM

“I’m hoping for a series of “unfortunate” accidents to happen to home healthcare workers and their wards.”

-jimbo

Bishop on June 30, 2014 at 1:36 PM

“Nice walker ya got there, be a shame……………….”

VegasRick on June 30, 2014 at 2:02 PM

Striking down Abood would be monumental. The one-party rule in California began after Jerry Brown in Term 1 of his reign mandated “fair share fees” to be paid by non-members. Sure, immigration helped turn CA blue, but it’s the showers of money flowing to Dems that really killed the GOP.

What the media seems to be suppressing is the fact that over 80% of these “dues” go to PACs, and almost all of these PACs are Democrat. It’s a money laundering scheme: from the taxpayers to the employees, from the employees to the union and then to the Dems.

PattyJ on June 30, 2014 at 2:03 PM

The Forgotten Man: Overlooked In The Public Sector Union Debate

Resist We Much on June 30, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Excellent!

petefrt on June 30, 2014 at 2:04 PM

This month marks the beginning of lawsuits that found their way to SCOTUS as a direct result of Obama getting elected in 2008 and the State and Federal overreach that followed. Obama and the States thought they could ram stuff through when he first got into office thinking that it would be a very long time if ever that some of this stuff hit SCOTUS and the Appellate courts would back them up.

We used to call this the “throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks” approach in the Military. Unfortunately some of the stuff Obama threw is going to stick.

Johnnyreb on June 30, 2014 at 2:05 PM

- O/T BREAKING: the three Jewish teenagers abudicted have been found shot to death in a shallow grave.

- I’m hoping for a series of “unfortunate” accidents to happen to Hobby Lobby stores and the Greens.

jim56 on June 30, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Fascists unite.

faraway on June 30, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Striking down Abood would be monumental. The one-party rule in California began after Jerry Brown in Term 1 of his reign mandated “fair share fees” to be paid by non-members. Sure, immigration helped turn CA blue, but it’s the showers of money flowing to Dems that really killed the GOP.

What the media seems to be suppressing is the fact that over 80% of these “dues” go to PACs, and almost all of these PACs are Democrat. It’s a money laundering scheme: from the taxpayers to the employees, from the employees to the union and then to the Dems.

PattyJ on June 30, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Break the unions we break democratic piggy banks. :)

sorrowen on June 30, 2014 at 2:09 PM

The direct ruling on Harris is bad enough for PEUS, but it may mean something worse down the line. For politicians looking to sell out home health-care workers to curry favor with union donors, it’s the end of one part of the gravy train, and an end to a potential line of reasoning that may have trapped a much wider part of the private sector into the government’s web of control and corruption.

This was a “gravy train” that should never have been tolerated… and it’s a pretty damned bad indictment of the lower courts that it got as far as it did.

When it’s boiled down to the basics, these public unions were skimming the benefits checks of the sick and handicapped. It was theft, pure and simple.. stealing from invalids. And it needs to be made right. Every dime that was taken improperly should be returned to the victims.

Murf76 on June 30, 2014 at 2:12 PM

rogerb on June 30, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Where’d you get this from?

Schadenfreude on June 30, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Never mind rogerb

Read my comments on the other posts. I’m hoping for a series of “unfortunate” accidents to happen to Hobby Lobby stores and the Greens.

jim56 on June 30, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Schadenfreude on June 30, 2014 at 2:17 PM

It’s a money laundering scheme: from the taxpayers to the employees, from the employees to the union and then to the Dems.

PattyJ on June 30, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Agreed. And this case was particularly egregious as they were helping themselves to the benefits checks of sick people. What kind of creep does something as disgusting as that? How did this case not get thrown out before it got to the Supreme Court?

Murf76 on June 30, 2014 at 2:20 PM

right to work for public sector employees is coming. That will be something to see.

I think Alito wants a case before Obama gets to do any more damage on the court.

WisRich on June 30, 2014 at 2:21 PM

And when I said “thrown out”, what I meant was ‘decided against the unions’.

Murf76 on June 30, 2014 at 2:22 PM

pretty much equal IMO, both very important.

dmacleo on June 30, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Court: Public union can’t make nonmembers pay fees

Schadenfreude on June 30, 2014 at 2:26 PM

What the media seems to be suppressing is the fact that over 80% of these “dues” go to PACs, and almost all of these PACs are Democrat. It’s a money laundering scheme: from the taxpayers to the employees, from the employees to the union and then to the Dems.

PattyJ on June 30, 2014 at 2:03 PM

And in Harris and similar schemes, they tried to cut out the “employees”.

Steve Eggleston on June 30, 2014 at 2:37 PM

The public employee unions won’t make as much noise. Except for elections, they prefer to work as quietly as possible so people don’t realize how much they add to the costs of government at all levels and contribute to its arrogance and inefficiency.

Adjoran on June 30, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Why not abolish all unions anywhere public or private.

They outlived their usefulness 70 years ago and are now just corrupt Democrat workers and money machines.

txdoc on June 30, 2014 at 3:06 PM

I agree that this is the more important and I was actually surprised that it was a split decision. Good for the families and their loved ones.

Cindy Munford on June 30, 2014 at 3:11 PM

All these 5-4 rulings make me nervous… Another Dem president after Obama… There is nothing short of a massive uprising that will keep the leftists from doing whatever they want to us and this country… Nothing…

Caseoftheblues on June 30, 2014 at 3:53 PM

I really don’t understand how a state thought they could do this.

ladyingray on June 30, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Well, it is Illinois. The same state that brought you Rod Blagojevich, George Ryan, Dan Rostenkowski, Jesse Jackson Jr., Mel Reynolds, Tony Rezko, plus many, many other shining beacons of public integrity.

And since this thread is in no ways about sex, it has about 1% of the traffic of the Hobby Lobby threads.

JimLennon on June 30, 2014 at 4:11 PM

I think the left is quiet about this case because they do not see how to exploit it for political advantage. They will distort Hobby Lobby to energize women to go vote. This case if understood by the electorate would have caused people to vote against the D’s because PEU’s are not popular while family members who take care of grandma or babies are very popular.

KW64 on June 30, 2014 at 5:13 PM