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Defending Business Owners’ Free-Speech Rights

Miller v. Inslee

Case Status

Date Filed

July 18, 2019

Last Step

Filed amicus brief supporting petition for certiorari.

Next Step

Await Supreme Court’s decision on whether to hear the case.

Case Overview

Most business owners understand that the government can force them to deal with a union if enough employees vote to unionize. But probably most business owners don’t think there’s any risk of the government forcing them to accept a union to represent themselves. That sounds nonsensical: Unions represent employees, not owners or managers.

Yet that’s exactly what has happened to the owners of daycare businesses in 18 states where the government has authorized a union to serve as the “exclusive representative” of daycare providers whose clients include families that receive state subsidies for their children’s care.

Katherine Miller, a daycare owner in Washington State, doesn’t want a union to speak for her. Yet the Service Employees International Union is doing so because the state has recognized it as her exclusive representative. So she filed a lawsuit challenging Washington’s law that gives the union that power, arguing that it violates her First Amendment right to choose what groups she will and won’t associate with.

Lower federal courts ruled against her, and now she’s asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take her case, supported by an amicus brief from the Goldwater Institute.

As the Goldwater Institute’s brief explains, when our country’s founders designed the Constitution, they sought to limit the influence of “factions”—that is, of interest groups that would use the government to serve their own interests rather than the public interest. Today, public-sector unions have all the characteristics of a faction. And when the government enacts laws like Washington’s that force private business owners to accept a public-sector union to speak for them, it creates and empowers dangerous new factions and undermines our republican system of government.

Case Documents

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