News Story

US Supreme Court Cites Mackinac Center in Landmark Ruling On Unions

Majority holding gives right-to-work status to every public employee in the nation

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy played a role in a Supreme Court ruling that the mainstream media is calling “the most significant court decision affecting collective bargaining rights in decades.” The court majority cited arguments submitted by the Mackinac Center’s public interest law firm to support its decision.

The case is Janus v. AFSCME, and by a 5-4 margin on Wednesday, the court held in favor of the plaintiff and against the union. The ruling means that public sector employees across the nation can no longer be forced to pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.

The court’s majority addressed the question of whether public sector unions would disappear. It wrote, “Likewise, millions of public employees in the 28 States that have laws generally prohibiting agency fees are represented by unions that serve as the exclusive representatives of all the employees.” The ruling then referenced a Mackinac Center brief to support that assertion.

“We are cited for factual information that helped them make their decision,” said Derk Wilcox, senior attorney at the Mackinac Center. “We got our point across to the justices.”

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, a project of the Mackinac Center, filed a 55-page amicus curiae brief on Dec. 7, 2017.

“There are tons of amicus briefs that are filed in any given Supreme Court case, and to be cited in the actual opinion, that’s incredible,” said Eric Doster, a Lansing-area public policy attorney. “I’m jealous. That’s pretty cool. To point out a unique argument that the United States Supreme Court used as part of its analysis is praiseworthy.”

More than 35 amici or “friend of the court” briefs were submitted in support of AFSCME Council 31, according to the union. The Mackinac Center brief was one of three cited by the court majority, including one submitted by the state of Michigan.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is a project of the Mackinac Center.