The Freedom Foundation got sad news this morning when it learned the U.S. Supreme Court had declined to hear arguments in Boardman v. Inslee, a landmark union reform case on which the organization has been working for the past five years.
The greatest disappointment about the decision is that it sends a signal the court lacks the will to enforce its earlier rulings in Harris v. Quinn and Janus v. AFSCME, which banned mandatory union membership and/or dues as a condition of employment in the public sector.
“A favorable ruling would have made it easier for us to contact these workers and inform them of their constitutional rights,” said Freedom Foundation President Tom McCabe. “The justices also missed a chance to send a message about abusing the processes of government to favor the interests of one political viewpoint over another. Their decision maintains the status quo when we were hoping things would improve, but it doesn’t move us backward.”
While workers can still opt out, a ruling in favor of your Freedom Foundation’s plaintiffs would have cracked down on the unions’ brazen efforts to skirt what were thought to be the court’s unambiguous intentions.
Boardman sought to overturn a union-conceived 2016 Washington ballot initiative in which voters were told they were voting to beef up penalties against ID theft but instead made it legal for the state to supply unions with the contact information of Medicaid-compensated homecare providers while denying the Freedom Foundation access to the same data.
Under the current rules, and over the unions’ spirited opposition, nearly 100,000 public employees have left their union since 2018 as a direct result of the Freedom Foundation’s outreach efforts.
The decision to deny the case came up one vote short, with Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch strongly in favor of hearing it, but presumed conservatives Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts inexplicably joining the liberal wing of Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.
“The court rightly recognized in Harris and Janus that taxpayer-funded employees have a right not to be forced to fund a union,” McCabe said. “But those decisions mean nothing if the court continues to bury its head in the sand regarding unions and state government abuses that circumvent the intent of those rulings.
“At some point,” he said, “our highest court has to back up its previous decisions by putting a halt on the blatantly illegal actions by government union officials to keep Americans in the dark regarding their constitutional rights.”
“While we would have preferred a victory in Boardman, today’s court decision doesn’t take anything away,” concluded McCabe. “The Freedom Foundation will continue to defend the rights of home care providers and public employees against government union abuses under the same rules we did yesterday.”