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Goldwater Institute Files Amicus Brief with Supreme Court in Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association

September 11, 2015

Washington—Today the Goldwater Institute filed a “friend of the court” brief in Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of Rebecca Friedrichs and nine other California public school teachers who are challenging the requirement that teachers must pay dues to the teacher’s union as a condition of employment.

“No one should be forced by the government to fund a union or trade association as a condition of employment,” said Jared Blanchard, a staff attorney at the Goldwater Institute who filed the amicus brief in support of 10 California public school teachers challenging the law. “To force people to financially support political opinions they disagree with in order to earn a living in their chosen profession is a gross violation of the First Amendment.”

The teachers are challenging a law that allows them to decline union membership, but still requires them to pay union dues before they can be hired as a public school teacher. This arrangement, known as “agency shop” laws, forces teachers to pay full dues to the union annually, even if they aren’t members, and then ask for a refund for the roughly 30 percent of their dues that the union says is spent purely on politics. The rest of their dues are non-refundable and are supposed to be spent on non-political things that benefit all teachers, even those who aren’t members of the union, like collective bargaining.

The teachers are asserting that collective bargaining is inherently political and that the benefits offered to teachers as a result of collective bargaining are not true benefits to all teachers. Creating workplace rules that keep ineffective teachers in the classroom or prevent merit-pay systems are examples.

The Goldwater Institute is interested in this case because of the implications it could have on a case the Institute has filed in North Dakota, Fleck v. McDonald. That case challenges the requirement that lawyers must join the state bar association in order to earn a living practicing law. Bar associations, like teachers unions, spend mandatory dues money on politics, often without the permission of members.

In 26 states individuals are forced to fund public teachers unions in order to earn a living as a public school teachers. A favorable ruling in the Friedrich case would protect the First Amendment rights of public school teachers. The case was originally filed by the Center for Individual Rights.


About the Goldwater Institute

The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater’s home state of Arizona. Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a “watchdog for conservative ideals” that plays an “outsize role” in American political life.



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