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If Neil Gorsuch Joins Supreme Court, That Could Spell Trouble For Public-Sector Unions

In Illinois, public-sector workers don’t have to join the unions and pay dues, but they do pay somewhat-lower “fees” that are supposed to cover the union’s cost in negotiating and enforcing contracts.

That’s due to a 40-year-old Supreme Court precedent. A couple of years ago, the Supreme Court accepted a case challenging that precedent, but Antonin Scalia died before he got to vote on it. The court split four-four without touching the precedent.

But a case in Illinois-- initiated by governor Bruce Rauner-- seeks to challenge the same precedent.

“If I were a public-sector union right now, I would be very concerned that a Justice Gorsuch would be the fifth vote to over-rule,” says University of Chicago law professor Daniel Hemel.

Hemel says the case’s timing makes it a realistic candidate for the court to hear soon.

“This case could be argued first Monday in October, 2017,” he says.

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