Friedrichs’ Impact on Education Reform

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the most important case to affect teachers in decades, could be greatly influence by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  A confluence of events, including the fact that 2016 is an election year and possible changes in the ideological composition of the Supreme Court, could affect the decision.  Dimitri Melhorn discusses 3 ways the Supreme Court could influence education reform on  National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorney Bill Messenger discusses the importance to teachers and background of the Friedrichs case,

In Friedrichs, the Court will consider whether to overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education(1977), which held that public employees can be compelled to financially support union collective-bargaining with government, but not union political activities. The Court’s grant of certiorari in Friedrichs came on the one-year anniversary of its decision in Harris v. Quinn, where the Court criticized Abood’s rationales, but did not overrule Abood. Unlike HarrisFriedrichs squarely presents the issue decided in Abood—whether public school teachers can be required to pay compulsory union fees as condition of their employment.

The Friedrichs petitioners argue that Abood should be overturned because there is no distinction between bargaining with government and lobbying government—both are political speech. The respondent California Teachers Association, however, counters that union bargaining with government is akin to bargaining with a private employer, and that it is wrongful for teachers to get a “free ride” on union bargaining efforts.