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Week in Review: Cronyism Loses Big in New Jersey

August 24, 2019

It might stand to reason that taxpayer dollars should not be spent to benefit private unions, but that’s exactly what was happening in New Jersey — until the Goldwater Institute took action.

This week, the New Jersey Court of Appeals ruled that taxpayers in one of the state’s largest school districts will no longer be forced to pay for private union activities. New Jersey taxpayers—represented by the Goldwater Institute—filed the case to challenge release time, a practice that pays government employees to work exclusively for government unions, while still receiving their taxpayer-funded salaries and benefits. In this case, a union contract required a school district to pay the salaries of two full-time teachers who did not spend their time educating children, but instead performed full-time union work—costing taxpayers $1.1 million over the course of the agreement.

In the ruling, the Court of Appeals said that these teachers were “act[ing] exclusively as labor leaders,” rather than as “teachers who serve the day-to-day educational needs of the students of the district.” The court ruled that the practice is not authorized by statute, is “against public policy,” and that public funds can no longer be used for release time.

“Today is a great day for New Jersey taxpayers, because this puts an end to an egregious form of government cronyism,” said Goldwater Institute Director of National Litigation Jon Riches, who is part of the legal team leading the lawsuit, Rozenblit v. Jersey City School District. “Government resources should be spent for public purposes, not to advance the activities and interests of private individuals and associations. Today’s decision will help ensure that private unions no longer benefit from public dollars.”

In its reporting on the ruling, the Jersey Journal said that the decision “is expected to have a ripple effect across the state.” Read more about this big win for taxpayer rights on In Defense of Liberty.

The Goldwater Institute is also challenging union release time in states nationwide, including working with the Texas Public Policy Foundation on a case in Texas.

Slavery’s Fatal Lie

The New York Times is getting attention for a series of articles called “The 1619 Project,” which argues that slavery is the source of “nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional.” But as Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur writes in a new article for, the series makes a profound error in claiming that the United States itself is premised upon slavery.

Instead of pointing to slavery as what makes America unique, Sandefur writes, what truly makes America special was the effort to abolish it:

Slavery is among the oldest and most ubiquitous of all human institutions; as the Times series’ title indicates, American slavery predated the American Revolution by a century and a half. What’s unique about America is that it alone announced at birth the principle that all men are created equal—and that its people have struggled to realize that principle since then. As a result of their efforts, the Constitution today has much more to do with what happened in 1865 than in 1776, let alone 1619. Nothing could be more worthwhile than learning slavery’s history, and remembering its victims and vanquishers. But to claim that America’s essence is white supremacy is to swallow slavery’s fatal lie.

Read more from Sandefur here and listen to him discuss the issue on appearance on the “Armstrong and Getty” radio program here.

COMING SOON: Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump

College campuses have always been hotbeds of protest, but since the 2016 election, stories of activism gone wild have been particularly prevalent: violent protests, demands for safe spaces, and the silencing of views that activist groups find disagreeable. Who are the leaders behind these protests, and what do they want?

Libertarian journalist (and former Goldwater Institute intern) Robby Soave seeks to answer these questions in his new book, Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump. Soave profiles young radicals from across the political spectrum to gain insight into this millennial and Generation Z activism.

On Wednesday, September 4, Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, in partnership with the Goldwater Institute, welcomes Soave to ASU’s Tempe campus for a lecture and book signing. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey will introduce offer introductory remarks at the event. You can read more about the event, including how to register, at In Defense of Liberty. Also, learn about the Goldwater Institute’s work to restore free speech on college campuses at our website



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