Janus v. AFSCME, 585 U.S. ___, 2018 WL 3129785 (2018)

In a highly anticipated decision, the United States Supreme Court held that it is a violation of the First Amendment to require public sector employees who are not members of a union to pay any union dues, even when a portion of those dues is attributable to the costs of collective bargaining on behalf of all employees.  Petitioner Mark Janus, an employee of the state of Illinois, refused to join the union because he opposes many of its positions, including those arguably taken on his behalf in collective bargaining activities.  Janus challenged the requirement that he pay any fees to the union, including that portion of the union dues attributable to collective bargaining activities (“agency fees”), arguing that such fees represent “coerced political speech” and that “the First Amendment forbids coercing any money from the nonmembers.”  In a 5-4 decision, the Court overruled its prior opinion on this issue and determined that the state’s “extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violates the First Amendment.”