SCOTUS deals two blows to the Obama Administration

Angled view of the Supreme Court

Lost in the kerfuffle this week over the Hobby Lobby ruling was another Supreme Court hit to big government. That’s right – SCOTUS closed its 2014 term with two rebukes for the Obama Administration.

The lesser-known case, Harris v. Quinn, centered around[1] whether states can pass laws that require all public employees to pay union dues, regardless of whether they want to be in a union or not. In a 5-4 ruling, the court ruled that no, public-sector employees like policemen, firefighters or teachers, cannot be forced to pay even partial dues to a union they don’t intend to ever join.

Some might argue that the court’s relatively narrow ruling could have gone even further; that it should have declared such state laws unconstitutional. But still, a blow is a blow, and that makes two for the White House in one day.

There’s a common thread that links both the Harris case and the Hobby Lobby case. In each case, the Supreme Court decided against coercing people to pay for goods or services. In the Hobby Lobby suit, the Obama Administration was trying to coerce the Green family (the owners of Hobby Lobby) and others like them, into using company resources to pay for contraception methods that violated their religious beliefs.

In the Harris case, the state of Illinois was trying to force home health-care workers to pay union dues, even if they wanted neither to join the union nor financially support its advocacy. Lest anyone wonder what the Obama Administration’s stance on the case was, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called[1] the ruling “disappointing.” He added that the White House believed it would “make it significantly harder for these dedicated employees to get a fair shake in exchange for their hard work.”

The legal questions at the heart of both these questions remain the same. Can a government entity force an individual to pay for something they don’t want? While we remain unconvinced the White House got the message, we’re glad the Supreme Court erred on the side of freedom and answered with a resounding “no.” Those who say otherwise only contribute to the slow but steady chipping away of American freedom.