As we reported earlier this year, public school teachers in California challenged a compulsory union fee requirement under a collective bargaining agreement between the state and a union. The teachers contended that the fee violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by forcing them to support political activity of the union with which they did not agree. The case was argued before the nine-member U.S. Supreme Court, but Justice Antonin Scalia died before the decision was rendered. The eight-member Court split 4-4, leaving in place a Ninth Circuit ruling, which held that the teachers could be forced to pay fees that are used for collective bargaining and related union activity that is not directly political or ideological.
The teachers filed a request for reconsideration, asking the Court to defer a ruling until the Court was back to its full complement of nine justices. On June 28, the Court said no. More cases like this are in the pipeline and may again get to the Supreme Court. Many see union activities as inherently political, especially when the union is dealing with an arm of the government, be it a school district or otherwise.