What Other Posthumous Progressive Victories Will Scalia Bring Us?

The late Justice Antonin Scalia has the potential to bring us some interesting posthumous material, even if it was never intended for release by the jurist.

In Scalia’s absence, public sector unions scored a big victory Tuesday when the court deadlocked 4-4 along familiar lines on a lawsuit that would have abolished unions’ abilities to require compulsory dues.

Had Scalia sided with his conservative brethren in overturning a lower court’s ruling of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, he would have helped to overrule a 1977 precedent “allowing public employee unions to collect mandatory dues from represented workers if authorized by state law” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Instead, the split decision maintains 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,” according to SCOTUSblog.

Had it not been for Scalia’s unexpected death in February, SCOTUSblog continues, overturning the Ninth Circuit’s ruling seemed imminent.

[SCOTUS appeared to be on] its way toward a five-to-four decision to declare that it would be unconstitutional for unions representing government employees to charge fees to workers they represent but who are not among its members, even when the fees cover the costs of normal union bargaining over working conditions, not lobbying or outright political advocacy.

Suffice it to say, a loss here would have been very bad news for the NJEA, the state AFL-CIO, and other public-sector unions. The New York Times did a good job providing an overview of a deadlocked SCOTUS climate that leaves us wondering what’s in store in the likelihood that Scalia’s seat remains vacant for a long, long time.

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