ON-Lion Letter
The Center for Individual Rights (CIR) in Washington, D.C., has filed a lawsuit in federal court in California on behalf of 10 teachers and the Christian Educators Association International, challenging the constitutionality of California's "agency-shop" law, which violates the First Amendment by forcing public-school teachers to pay annual fees to support powerful teachers' unions extensively involved in political activity.  The defendants are the National Education Association, the California Teachers Association (CTA), 10 affiliated local teachers' unions, and local school officials.

As a condition of public employment, California and its public-school districts, in cooperation with the CTA, requires every public-school teacher, including non-union members, to pay several hundred dollars in fees each year for "chargeable" expenses that are related to the teachers' unions’ collective-bargaining efforts.  Even for "non-chargeable" union expenses related to lobbying and political activities outside of the collective-bargaining process, non-union teachers who do not wish to contribute must go through an annual "opt-out" process that is often intimidating and time-consuming. 

This so-called "agency-shop" arrangement violates the First Amendment guarantee of free speech and free association by imposing compelled subsidies of political activity while serving no "compelling state interest" and failing to be "narrowly tailored" to any government interest, according to CIR's complaint.

"Forcing educators to financially support causes that run contrary to their political and policy beliefs violates their First Amendment rights to free expression and association and cannot withstand First Amendment scrutiny," according to Michael A. Carvin, a partner with the Jones Day law firm and lead counsel for the plaintiffs.  "The Supreme Court questioned the continued constitutionality of 'agency shop' laws last year in the Knox decision."

Last year in the Knox case, the Court held that the Service Employees International Union in California violated the First Amendment rights of its non-union members by forcing them to pay a 25% increase in union dues without their consent to help fight ballot initiatives in the state.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports CIR.
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