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Knox

Knox

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Published by: anthony_rosa_16 on Jun 21, 2012
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06/21/2012

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1
(Slip Opinion)
OCTOBER TERM, 2011Syllabus
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as isbeing done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has beenprepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.See
United States
v.
 Detroit Timber & Lumber Co.,
200 U. S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
Syllabus
KNOX
ET AL
.
v
. SERVICE EMPLOYEES
INTERNATIONAL UNION, LOCAL 1000
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FORTHE NINTH CIRCUITNo. 10–1121. Argued January 10, 2012—Decided June 21, 2012California law permits public-sector employees in a bargaining unit todecide by majority vote to create an “agency shop” arrangement un-der which all the employees are represented by a union. Even em-ployees who do not join the union must pay an annual fee for“chargeable expenses,
i.e.,
the cost of nonpolitical union services re-lated to collective bargaining. Under
 Abood
v.
 Detroit Bd. of Ed.
, 431U. S. 209, a public-sector union can bill nonmembers for chargeableexpenses but may not require them to fund its political or ideologicalprojects.
Teachers
v.
Hudson
, 475 U. S. 292, 302–311, sets out re-quirements that a union must meet in order to collect regular feesfrom nonmembers without violating their rights.In June 2005, respondent, a public-sector union (SEIU), sent toCalifornia employees its annual
Hudson
notice, setting and cappingmonthly dues and estimating that 56.35% of its total expenditures inthe coming year would be chargeable expenses. A nonmember had 30days to object to full payment of dues but would still have to pay thechargeable portion. The notice stated that the fee was subject to in-crease without further notice. That same month, the Governor calledfor a special election on,
inter alia,
two ballot propositions opposed bythe SEIU. After the 30-day objection period ended, the SEIU sent aletter to unit employees announcing a temporary 25% increase indues and a temporary elimination of the monthly dues cap, billingthe move as an “Emergency Temporary Assessment to Build a Politi-cal Fight-Back Fund.” The purpose of the fund was to help achievethe union’s political objectives in the special election and in the up-coming November 2006 election. The union noted that the fundwould be used “for a broad range of political expenses, including tele-
 
 
2 KNOX
v.
SERVICE EMPLOYEESSyllabusvision and radio advertising, direct mail, voter registration, voter ed-ucation, and get out the vote activities in our work sites and in ourcommunities across California.” Nonunion employees were not givenany choice as to whether they would pay into the fund.Petitioners, on behalf of nonunion employees who paid into thefund, brought a class action against the SEIU alleging violation of their First Amendment rights. The Federal District Court grantedpetitioners summary judgment. Ruling that the special assessmentwas for entirely political purposes, it ordered the SEIU to send a newnotice giving class members 45 days to object and to provide thosewho object a full refund of contributions to the fund. The Ninth Cir-cuit reversed, concluding that
Hudson
prescribed a balancing testunder which the proper inquiry is whether the SEIU’s proceduresreasonably accommodated the interests of the union, the employer,and the nonmember employees.
Held
:1. This case is not moot. Although the SEIU offered a full refund toall class members after certiorari was granted, a live controversy re-mains. The voluntary cessation of challenged conduct does not ordi-narily render a case moot because that conduct could be resumed assoon as the case is dismissed. See
City of Mesquite
v.
 Aladdin’s Cas-tle, Inc.
, 455 U. S. 283, 289. Since the SEIU continues to defend thefund’s legality, it would not necessarily refrain from collecting similarfees in the future. Even if concerns about voluntary cessation wereinapplicable because petitioners did not seek prospective relief, therewould still be a live controversy as to the adequacy of the refund no-tice the SEIU sent pursuant to the District Court’s order. Pp. 6
8.2. Under the First Amendment, when a union imposes a special as-sessment or dues increase levied to meet expenses that were not dis-closed when the regular assessment was set, it must provide a freshnotice and may not exact any funds from nonmembers without theiraffirmative consent. Pp. 8
23.(a) A close connection exists between this Nation’s commitmentto self-government and the rights protected by the First Amendment,see,
e.g., Brown
v.
Hartlage
, 456 U. S. 45, 52
53, which creates “anopen marketplace” in which differing ideas about political, economic,and social issues can compete freely for public acceptance withoutimproper government interference,
New York State Bd. of Elections
v.
Lopez Torres
, 552 U. S 196, 202. The government may not prohibitthe dissemination of ideas it disfavors, nor compel the endorsementof ideas that it approves. See,
e.g., R. A. V.
v.
St. Paul,
505 U. S. 377,382. And the ability of like-minded individuals to associate for thepurpose of expressing commonly held views may not be curtailed.See,
e.g., Roberts
v.
United States Jaycees,
468 U. S. 609, 623. Close-
 
 
3Cite as: 567 U. S. ____ (2012)Syllabusly related to compelled speech and compelled association is compelledfunding of the speech of private speakers or groups. Compulsorysubsidies for private speech are thus subject to exacting First Amendment scrutiny and cannot be sustained unless, first, there is acomprehensive regulatory scheme involving a “mandated association”among those who are required to pay the subsidy,
United States
v.
United Foods, Inc.,
533 U. S. 405, and, second, compulsory fees arelevied only insofar as they are a “necessary incident” of the “largerregulatory purpose which justified the required association,”
ibid.
Pp. 8
10.(b) When a State establishes an “agency shop” that exacts com-pulsory union fees as a condition of public employment, “[t]he dis-senting employee is forced to support financially an organization withwhose principles and demands he may disagree.”
Ellis
v.
RailwayClerks,
466 U. S. 435, 455. This form of compelled speech and associ-ation imposes a “significant impingement on First Amendmentrights.”
Ibid.
The justification for permitting a union to collect feesfrom nonmembers—to prevent them from free-riding on the union’sefforts—is an anomaly. Similarly, requiring objecting nonmembersto opt out of paying the nonchargeable portion of union dues
 ― 
ratherthan exempting them unless they opt in
 ― 
represents a remarkableboon for unions, creating a risk that the fees nonmembers pay will beused to further political and ideological ends with which they do notagree. Thus,
Hudson
, far from calling for a balancing of rights or in-terests, made it clear that any procedure for exacting fees from un-willing contributors must be “carefully tailored to minimize the in-fringement” of free speech rights, 475 U. S. 302
303, and it citedcases holding that measures burdening the freedom of speech or as-sociation must serve a compelling interest and must not be signifi-cantly broader than necessary to serve that interest. Pp. 10
13.(c) There is no justification for the SEIU’s failure to provide afresh
Hudson
notice.
Hudson
rests on the principle that nonmembersshould not be required to fund a union’s political and ideological pro- jects unless they choose to do so after having “a fair opportunity” toassess the impact of paying for nonchargeable union activities. 475U. S., at 303. The SEIU’s procedure cannot be considered to havemet
Hudson
’s requirement that fee-collection procedures be carefullytailored to minimize impingement on First Amendment rights. TheSEIU argues that nonmembers who objected to the special assess-ment but were not given the opportunity to opt out would have beengiven the chance to recover the funds by opting out when the nextannual notice was sent, and that the amount of dues payable the fol-lowing year by objecting nonmembers would decrease if the specialassessment were found to be for nonchargeable purposes. But this

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