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Standing Up to Union Power

Thompson v. Marietta Education Association

Case Status

Date Filed

February 17, 2021

Last Step

Filed amicus brief supporting petition for certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Next Step

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

Case Overview

In Janus v. AFSCME, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment forbids governments from requiring their employees to pay fees to a union. As a result of that decision, millions of government employees who previously had to give part of every paycheck to a union became free to choose which organizations they would and wouldn’t support with their money.

But the Janus decision only ended forced union fees—it didn’t stop public sector unions from “representing” workers who aren’t union members and don’t want a union to speak for them.

This case asks the Supreme Court to take the next step and strike down laws that authorize government bodies to recognize a union as employees’ “exclusive representative.” The plaintiff, Ohio public school teacher Jade Thompson, argues that appointing a union to speak to the government on her behalf—even though she disagrees with many positions the union takes and would prefer to speak for herself—violates her First Amendment right to freedom of association.

The Goldwater Institute has filed an amicus brief asking the Court to hear Thompson’s case. As the 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 their special legal privileges, including their power of exclusive representation, makes them especially dangerous and undermines our republican system of government.

Case Documents

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