Unions and Dems lost big in Janus

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court decided this week in Janus v. AFSCME that it is unconstitutional for the government to require public-sector employees to pay union dues. Specifically, the Supreme Court concluded that forcing employees to pay union dues violates the Constitution’s First Amendment right not to fund political speech with which one disagrees, even if those fees only pay for collective bargaining and not explicitly for political activities.

The decision has major ramifications for the national political landscape because unions, specifically public-sector unions, have long been staunch supporters of Democratic candidates. While public employees already had the ability to opt out of funding their union’s political arm, the court ruling will reduce the ability of unions to influence national politics and to help give a leg up to Democratic candidates.

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Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president of the National Education Association, which has three million members, predicts a possible loss of $28 million from the NEA’s budget of $366 million, as well nearly 200,000 members. Democrats nationwide recognize that this decision will weaken the party’s political power as a simple function of expendable money. Without mandatory payments, unions that fuel Democratic causes, along with the party itself, will have millions of dollars less to spend on their agendas.

The court broke precedent, acknowledging in the majority opinion that “we recognize the importance of following precedent unless there are strong reasons for not doing so. But there are very strong reasons in this case. Fundamental free rights are at stake.” This spells trouble for Democrats, and in particular for far-left Democrats, who often offset a lack of large donations from wealthy individuals through union contributions.

In the 2018 primary election cycle alone, public sector unions already have given more money to Democratic candidates than to Republican candidates by a margin of four to one. Previous cycles have yielded an even more uneven distribution of donations from unions. After this court decision, unions could very well have much less money to give, which will severely pinch liberal Democratic campaign budgets.

There also is the distinct possibility that the ruling will give a bump to Republicans, possibly as soon as the midterm elections in November. However, the benefits to public employees of not having to pay union dues will be more immediate than the longer term consequences of unions lacking the ability to negotiate higher wages for their employees, which could take years for public sector employees to experience.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. A longtime political consultant, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books, including “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence.”