Unionized news outlet Gawker Media cheered Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in a ostentatious victory chant Monday. Because of Scalia’s vote (now lack thereof) in a case aimed at ending mandatory public union dues, Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan felt it necessary to literally praise Scalia for dying, since his death now makes public unions significantly more likely to win.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Jan. 11 in the case to end mandatory union dues for public-sector workers. Scalia was believed to be the deciding vote against required dues. News outlets were quick to note how his death impacts the ongoing case, but Nolan in his piece, “By Dying, Antonin Scalia Saves Public Sector Unions,” decided to take it a step further.
“Antonin Scalia may have singlehandedly saved America’s public sector unions by dying when he did,” Nolan wrote. “By dying tragically as he did, it appears that Antonin Scalia has now left the court with what may be a 4-4 ruling.”
A tie would result in the case going back down to the previous court’s decision, which would put it firmly in favor of public sector unions.
Nolan is a long time union advocate and even helped his own outlet transition to organized labor. He has written about the benefits of newsrooms moving towards representation on numerous occasions.
“This, which does not depend on any Congressional maneuvering or political grandstanding, could be the most important direct legacy of Antonin Scalia’s death,” Nolan added. “Public unions will live to fight another day.”
Rebecca Friedrichs and nine other California teachers in the case argued that mandatory union payments violate their constitutional right to free-speech. They allege the union often engages in political activities they neither support nor wish to fund. The California Teachers Association (CTA) disputed the teachers’ claims.
The case challenged mandatory union payments on scale not seen in several decades. The teachers hope to reverse the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education which has allowed unions to require mandatory payments. The case addressed the free-speech issue by allowing workers to opt-out of funding union political activities.
Unions that get voted in as the exclusive representative for a workplace are required by law to represent all the workers. Therefore supporters argue its only fair all workers within a unionized workplace pay union dues. The teachers countered the argument by noting they didn’t want what the union was fighting for because it benefited teachers at the expense of students.
President Barack Obama is now responsible for appointing a replacement justice. The U.S. Senate must approve the replacement but the Republican majority is threatening to block any appointments until after Obama leaves office in a year. The president is likely to appoint a liberal leaning justice making a decision in favor of the union more likely.
Gawker did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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