Trump Pick for Supreme Court Could Devastate California Teachers Association

Rebecca FriedrichsWhile it may not be immediately apparent, Donald Trump’s victory in last week’s presidential election has deep implications for the balance of political power in California. Because of his win, there could soon be a fifth vote on the U. S. Supreme Court – again – to conclude that teachers at California public schools can’t be compelled to pay union dues to the California Teachers Association in support of political activities with which they disagree.

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These dues have made the CTA arguably the most powerful force in state politics, able to win passage of bills increasing taxpayer funding for the state teachers’ pension system, protecting teachers’ jobs and making it difficult for their performance to be evaluated. A Fair Political Practices Commission report found that the CTA and affiliated entitiesspent $212 million to influence state politics from 2000-2009. Dues vary but are generally around $1,000 a year for the CTA’s 325,000 members.

At a January hearing in the Friedrichs v. CTA case, five justices – conservatives Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito and libertarian swing voter Anthony Kennedy – appeared poised to allow teachers to opt out of CTA dues.

But in February, Scalia died. In March, the court deadlocked 4-4 on the case, and in June, it declined to hear the case again in the term that began in October.

Trump has promised to appoint a justice with Scalia-like views as his replacement. That presumably would mean five votes to put limits on what public employee union dues could be used for.

Are dues solely used for collective bargaining or not?

The case was brought in 2013 by the libertarian-leaning Center for Individual Rights on behalf of Rebecca Friedrichs, an Orange County schoolteacher (pictured above), and other teachers who object to the CTA’s agenda and reject the claim that their dues were being used for “collective bargaining” purposes only.

The center is expected to start the ball rolling again for a new federal trial, and eventual Supreme Court review, in coming months. It’s not clear whether Friedrichs will again be the plaintiff, but there’s a broad assumption that the CTA — labelled “the worst union in America” by conservative publication City Journal — will again be the target.

As California Lawyer magazine detailed last year, conservative federal judges — not just those on the Supreme Court — seem eager to expedite the challenge to union members’ objections to political uses of their dues. Both trial court and appellate judges went along with plaintiffs’ request that the Friedrichs case be rejected based on precedent — specifically, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, a 1977 Supreme Court ruling upholding compulsory union dues. This request was made to get the case before the high court as soon as possible.

There is little doubt that several justices are eager to scrap the precedent.

At the January hearing on the Friedrichs case, Kennedy ridiculed the argument that compelling teachers to pay union dues that were used to advocate political views they didn’t share was no big deal because those teachers could advocate for their views in other ways.

The contention that upholding Friedrichs’ challenge would destroy public employee unions also was subject to sharp challenge by justices who noted that federal employees’ unions didn’t charge “agency fees” but were able to effectively bargain on pay and benefits.

The four justices who voted to reject the Friedrichs case and side with the CTA criticized what they saw as an unseemly eagerness to reject long-held precedent. They noted that the Abood case’s finding had been challenged repeatedly over the last four decades and had only faced high court doubts in recent years.

This piece was originally published by


  1. Californians vote in some of the stupidest propositions that only put a noose around their necks. When they pass a good one, some crooked judge is called on to deem it unconstitutional. On my way to the grocery store with my germ-laden canvas bag. Sire glad I don’t have to monitor condom use among porn stars.

  2. Oh happy days could be here again!

    • It is encouraging. but “HAPPY DAYS” will appear after the demolition of the Cadillac Bureaucracies of the Socialist Progressives. Still a ways away for that worthy goal. May Big Daddy Jess Unruh rot.

  3. All unions should be banned in using any of their dues money for any political purposes. Unions should be apolitical in all ways especially a union that represents any public service employees.

  4. We can only hope and pray…
    Break the hammerlock on forced CTA union dues that are funnelled straight into “progressive” political causes, resulting in the continuing downfall of this formerly great state…
    Hoping that President Trump appoints Ted Cruz to fill Scalia’s seat on the SCOTUS..

  5. M. Sciaroni says

    The CTA is the largest campaign contributor in this once great State…and there is no close second. They have run amok. Arnold tried unsuccessfully to reign them in, was gutted like a fish and was never the same afterwards. It is about time they were taken down…

  6. Oh my, I’m looking for a downside to decimating the unions in this state and …. nope got nothing. What I’m also looking forward to is the repeal of the unconstitutional anti 2A ‘laws’ in this state.

  7. retiredxlr8r says

    Again I say, public employee unions are immoral therefore illegal.
    How is it that the teachers union can buy and sell politicians at a whim are allowed to campaign against the taxpayer with taxpayer funds?
    They should, public employee unions, all be decertified and outlawed from any participation in the political arena.
    This is for the protection of the taxpayers and the benefit of the student.

  8. Forced Union Dues to pay for political parties or objectionable liberal contributions. That’s just like forced medical insurance, like BOCare, which isn’t working either. Can’t wait for the swamp to start draining to correct these inequities. Checks and balances baby!

  9. This will be the GREATEST thing that could happen for California. Get RID of the teachers unions power!! Thank GOD for Trump and his supreme court appointment when he makes it!!

  10. Real Teacher says

    Are you trying to tell us that a reversal of Freidrich’s is suddenly going to change governance in the California legislature? Are you kidding me? Happy Days Are Here Again?

    How many illegal aliens voted for Hillary in California? How many are voting for Planned Parenthood funded Democrats and taking Republican seats in one or both houses? Cut out the union payouts to Democrats; I’m all for it. They’re still going to remain liberal and they’re still going to vote to expand their liberal base while increasing both taxes and regulations.

    How you going to stop the big money tech oligarchs who are propping up the Big Democrat Machine in California? Tell us how you’re going to do that? The lovers of The Dream Act and all things anti-Trump.

    Brown won’t have to build a wall. The San Andreas Fault will do the job for him. Me? I gotta’ leave the ship before it literally sinks into the Pacific.

  11. The LAUSD teachers still don’t pay a penny for themselves and their families healthcare plans while active and into retirement. That is crazy in this day and age and should be renegotiated.

  12. Works for me. I hope the Supreme’s don’t stop there with CA.

    • True Teacher says

      Yeah, The Supremes. The robed elitists who bring Truth and Justice to the republic.

      Thanks, Mr. Roberts, for Obama Care. Thanks, Mr. Kennedy, for making Reagan and Meese look like fools. You’ve shown that even a judicial nominee will lie in order to impose a warped ideology.

  13. “Trump Pick for Supreme Court Could Devastate California Teachers Association”

    If so…………………..MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

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