The head of the AFL-CIO compared a recent Supreme Court decision affirming workers’ right to work in the public sector without paying union fees to two of the most infamous SCOTUS decisions in American history.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka compared the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME to rulings issued in Dred Scott v Sandford and Korematsu v. United States in a speech at Yale Law School Friday.
The Supreme Court ruled June 27 in Janus that public sector employees could not be made to pay fees to or join a union as a condition for keeping their jobs. The ruling released roughly 5 million government workers from paying mandatory union dues that violated their first amendment rights. A recent study found that more than a million members may drop union representation as a result of the decision. (RELATED: The Supreme Court Just Handed Down Its Big Decision On Mandatory Union Dues)
“Decisions like Bush v. Gore, Citizens United, Trump v. Hawaii and Janus v. AFSCME should be given more than casual scrutiny by lawyers, law professors and judges. It is time to look at these rulings as a body … with historic implications beyond the scope of each individual case,” Trumpka said. “And perhaps given their origins in an effort to frustrate the normal workings of our democracy and our laws, we need to consider whether in the future they should be accorded a special status in American judicial infamy, taking their place with other monuments to fear and division like Dred Scott and Korematsu.”
The Dred Scott case involved a black man who was enslaved in Missouri, escaped to the free state of Illinois and sued for his freedom after he was captured. Dred Scott, the litigant, claimed that his residency in Illinois meant that he was a free man.
Scott’s case was decided in 1857. The Supreme Court found that “a negro, whose ancestors were imported into [the U.S.], and sold as slaves,” could never become American citizens. Scott, therefore, did not have the standing to sue in court.
Korematsu was a case decided in 1944. After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in the lead-up to the United States’ involvement in World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an Executive Order forcing all Japanese-Americans into relocation camps. Roosevelt claimed it was a matter of national security.
Fred Korematsu lived in San Leandro, California, and refused to move when ordered to by the federal government. He was arrested, and the Supreme Court upheld the arrest by finding that Roosevelt’s order did not show racial prejudice.
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