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

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch looks on as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley speaks to reporters before their meeting Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch looks on as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley speaks to reporters before their meeting Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch looks on as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley speaks to reporters before their meeting Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch looks on as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley speaks to reporters before their meeting Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

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.