Supreme Court Rules against SEIU in Knox Case; Protects Liberty

SEIU logoThe U.S. Supreme Court once again has put the nation's public-sector unions on notice: Fee-paying nonmember workers under contract can't be forced to subsidize political causes they don't like. Last Thursday, June 21, in its long-awaited decision in Knox et al. v. SEIU, the Court affirmed a longstanding principle. Ruling 7-2 on the merits of the case and 5-4 on the issue of First Amendment rights, the Court concluded that the Sacramento-based Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000, California's largest public employee union, had deprived "agency shop" workers of the right to opt out of making monetary contributions toward union advocacy.  The ruling may have long-term implications for state and local fiscal reform, especially in jurisdictions where union-driven public-sector benefit commitments are prompting major cutbacks in basic services.

A union contract shouldn't render unionized public-sector employees, any more than their compatriots in the private sector, hostage to the preferences of their leaders. The Supreme …