Knox v. SEIU

My colleague Ilya Shapiro hails as “a major victory for individual liberties” today’s Supreme Court decision in Knox v. SEIU, in which a five-member majority, reversing the Ninth Circuit, upheld the right of union members not to be assessed political contributions without their consent; Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor concurred in the result but not the majority opinion, while Justices Breyer and Kagan dissented. More: Damon Root, Reason; Daniel Fisher, Forbes; Trevor Burrus, Cato (quoting Justice Alito’s majority opinion: “the effect of the SEIU’s procedure was to force many nonmembers to subsidize a political effort designed to restrict their own rights.”).


  • 5-4? I’m seeing 7-2 on AP.

  • So everyone hailing this decision is next going to support the right of shareholders to prevent corporations from using their capital towards political purposes, right? Or does this “everybody gets a veto over everything a collective body does” right apply only to unions?

    While we’re at it, did anyone see the footnote rejecting arbitration (paid for by the union!) as a remedy because “the painful burden of initiating and participating in such disputes cannot be so easily relieved?” Wasn’t there a recent case about how wonderful arbitration agreements were, and how complaints that arbitration was expensive and painful and would hinder plaintiff’s rights to relief were unfounded? Does anyone remember how Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy voted in that one?

  • I guess that will become a relevant comparison just as soon as federal law forces us to become shareholders of corporations and sign over part of our paychecks to them as sole legally authorized representatives. Until that happens, it won’t be a terribly relevant comparison.

  • Nice straw man Max. Next time your money is strong-armed from your hands and given to a private association which you abhor (hmm, let’s see, how would you like having part of your earnings going to the GOP, without your consent) let’s see how you feel about being required to go to arbitration to get your money back.

  • Bob, Walter, I’m with you, I really am. But there’s still an annoying little voice in the back of my head saying, “part of my paycheck being forceably taken and given to a private organization? like the UAW?”

    It’s not strictly germane, but it does immediately come to mind, what with the way your counters were structured.

  • One hears over and over again the claim that corporations will buy our elections using their economic power. But as I understand it, corporate money can be used only for corporate purposes. A corporate executive can lobby for a particular policy affecting his company, but would be properly criticized (sued) for backing a particular candidate. Corporations backing away from controversy was evident in the Limbaugh comments about Sandra Fluke.

    The right of rich guys to use strong bullhorns was established in Buckly vs. Valeo.

  • I do find it odd that Kennerly, like most plaintiff attorneys, has no
    qualms about posting his dissent on weblogs such as this one, but just
    try to post a comment disagreeing with him on his weblog, and see
    if the comment gets approved for publication. There are a few
    personal injury attorneys (Turkewitz comes to mind) who gracefully
    will accept dissent, but most will not

  • […] Olson at Overlawyered provides a roundup of posts on the Court’s decision yesterday in Knox v. SEIU upholding the right of nonunion employees […]