January 18, 2018

Whitehouse, Blumenthal File Brief in Key Public Sector Union Case before Supreme Court

Senators entreat Justices to safeguard the Court’s independence in face of sophisticated influence campaign

Washington, DC – Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal EmployeesJanus centers on whether public sector employees can be required to pay fees to public sector unions that advocate on their behalf in the collective bargaining process.  In their brief, Whitehouse and Blumenthal argue that unions’ authority to require fees from those who benefit from union-negotiated benefits is well established in Supreme Court precedent.  They also highlight the array of powerful, sophisticated, and highly partisan interests attempting to achieve their goals through the courts.  Partisan forces behind this effort are executing an intricate strategy – involving dark money and other political weapons – that could undermine the critical independence of our courts, write the Senators.

“This case is filled with perilous markers: a blatant political goal; persistent and sustained engagement by the special interests pursuing that goal, backed by repeat-player amici; a perceived invitation by the Court to seek the overruling of a deeply entrenched and repeatedly reaffirmed precedent; the absence of anything resembling a traditional Article III ‘Case or Controversy’; the plaintiffs’ anomalous rush to lose in a previous chapter of this litigation effort; untoward expressions of confidence by those driving the effort that this case will be decided by a 5-4 majority; and the suitors seeking that the Court cast aside of norms of justiciability and stare decisis,” Whitehouse and Blumenthal write.  “The Court can have no confidence that the partisan goals of special-interest litigation funders will self-regulate; it will need to defend itself and the Judiciary as a whole.  This case presents the opportunity for that correction.”

A copy of the Senators’ brief is available here and the accompanying appendix is available here.

The deadline for filing briefs in Janus is Friday.  The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case on February 26.

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