The end of public-employee unions?

But beyond that, Alito’s majority opinion suggested that a majority was sick and tired of this Abood nonsense, and might be grateful if someone—anyone—would bring them a case that would drive a stake through its heart. The essence of the argument is that all expenses of public-employee bargaining are “political,” because public-employee benefits, salaries, and pensions are paid for by taxpayers. Thus there is no “ordinary” collective bargaining, and financing any union dealings with government—even, say, a message saying, “Our union member X was discharged in violation of the contract”—is forcing objectors to pay for “ideological speech.”

In a sharp dissent, Justice Elena Kagan warned that “[t]he Abood rule is deeply entrenched, and is the foundation for not tens or hundreds, but thousands of contracts between unions and governments across the Nation. Our precedent about precedent, fairly understood and applied, makes it impossible for this Court to reverse that decision.”

Nonetheless, a hopeful anti-union group—the Center for Individual Rights, represented by right-wing powerhouse lawyer Michael Carvin—is pressing another opportunity upon the Court. “This case is an excellent vehicle for reconsidering Abood,” the cert petition notes; indeed so, because public-school teachers are unquestionably “full-fledged” state employees, and the petitioners can’t win if Abood is good law.