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Supreme Court Knocks Down Ninth Circus (Once Again!)

By Robert Romano

On February 24th, the Supreme Court overturned the Ninth Circus—err, Circuit—Court of Appeals once again. Unsurprisingly so, since they are most oft-overturned appeals court in the nation. And decidedly so, as well, in the 7-2 decision of Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Association.

In this case, the Ninth Circuit had read into the First Amendment a “right” of public employee unions to utilize public payroll deductions for political purposes. In Idaho, it is a matter of law that public employee unions—or any other government agency or organ—may use payroll deductions for political purposes.

This has instant impact of allowing union workers to decide whether or not they'd like to donate to a union's political arm. The effect, of course, may be to effectively hamper a union's political activities. But taxpayers have a reasonable expectation that their hard-earned money is not utilized on a de facto basis for political activities.

Americans for Limited Government on June 6th had filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, and certainly we here are gratified that the Supreme Court overwhelmingly agreed with us.

The real story, though, is the absurdity of the Ninth Circuit's ruling in the first place. The First Amendment does not require government to devote taxpayer resources to facilitating the speech of anybody. In other words, a state's budget is not in itself a public forum.

If it were, governments across the nation would be required as a matter of law to facilitate the speech of all points of view. Clearly, an untenable standard, when the purpose of the First Amendment is to protect political speech from government interference. And in an era when government funding comes with government strict terms and conditions, clearly the power of the purse would have a chilling rather than enabling effect on speech.

Therefore, the Ninth Circuit's initial ruling—which truly was a circus act—in Ysursa was actually quite dangerous, and the Supreme Court deserves praise for stamping out the potential flames of government coercion upon the freedom of expression.

Robert Romano is the Editor of ALG News Bureau.


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