Santa Claus will be getting his day in court soon, courtesy of a lawsuit filed on July 10 by the Freedom Foundation against the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Last December, a Santa stand-in hired by the Freedom Foundation – an Olympia, Wash.-based free-market think tank – showed up at the DOE’s offices and attempted to give the gift of truth to its employees about their legal right to opt out of full union dues.
Predictably, the DOE Scrooges did not want that information to get out and promptly gave Santa the boot.
Consequently, many forcibly unionized DOE employees were denied access to the truth about the Constitutional right to opt out of full union dues.
The agency’s not-so-jolly actions are even more sinister when one considers that, just a few weeks before Santa’s visit, the same office allowed a union – the Washington Federation of State Employees – to host a recruitment drive in precisely the same location.
This inconsistent treatment of speakers was an abuse of Santa’s right to free speech and robbed employees of their ability to hear an alternate point of view.
Free speech is our community’s firewall against manipulation and abuse of authority. To let the DOE’s actions go unchallenged would be to let that defense crumble.
What could prompt a group of civic-minded individuals, like the administrators at Department of Ecology, to take such a blatantly detrimental stance?
That’s hard to say, but here’s a theory: Based on the recruitment event, it seems obvious the union has a strong presence at the department. It’s also clear the union benefits when employees are ignorant of their right to stop funding them.
Allowing Santa to speak would have led to … controversy. (Gasp.)
This fear of controversy has led to many bad decisions over the years, but it is unfounded. Controversy is a feature, not a bug, in a free society. Sometimes disagreements turn into feuds that divide communities. But disagreement often leads to better decision-making.
When differing viewpoints are heard, better outcomes result.
The U.S. Constitution enshrined this principle in its very First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Respect for differing viewpoints has formed the basis for our political decision-making since the founders drafted the Federalist Papers to sway the public in favor of ratifying the Constitution. Americans continue that tradition in many forms, ranging from high school debate teams to candidates on national television.
Nonetheless, the Washington Department of Ecology has taken a stand against disagreement. The agency has unilaterally decided that only one viewpoint is welcome within its walls.
This is as unconstitutional as it is illogical.
The subsequent lawsuit demands DOE be forced to respect the rights of even those with whom its leaders disagree.
The Freedom Foundation is being represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation Pacific Legal Foundation, whose recent victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, should leave any anti-speech Scrooges shaking in their shoes.
The Freedom Foundation will not sit idly by and watch the Constitution shredded.