**Washington, DC (November 15, 2006)** – A diverse group of 35 legal foundations, public policy groups, and federal government agencies this week filed supporting briefs asking the nation’s highest court to reverse a novel Washington State Supreme Court decision that found a constitutional “right” for union officials to spend on politics the forced dues extracted from nonunion employees. A failure to overturn the activist Washington ruling might jeopardize America’s 22 state Right to Work laws which ban forced union dues altogether.
The 35 parties from across the country filed 14 amicus (or “friend of the court”) briefs in *Davenport v. Washington Education Association (WEA)* and *Washington v. WEA*, which are scheduled for oral arguments on January 10, 2007. In the Davenport case, National Right to Work Foundation attorneys are representing approximately 4,000 nonunion Washington State teachers. A list of the amici, as well as their underlying briefs, is available on the Foundation’s website.
In addition to asking for a reversal of the Washington State Supreme Court’s novel finding of a constitutional “right” for union officials to spend the compulsory dues of nonunion members, lead counsel Milton Chappell, a 30-year Foundation veteran in assisting union-abused employees, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify that it had never approved a pervasive union procedure designed to force nonunion members to pay full union dues, including hundreds of dollars per employee which are spent for a wide array of activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
While seeking to overturn the Washington State court’s dangerous precedent involving the First Amendment, Foundation attorneys are going on the offensive by asking the High Court to clarify its 45-year-old “dissent is not to be presumed” statement. Union officials have exploited that phrase from a 1961 ruling to force employees who resign union membership to take the additional affirmative step of objecting annually to cut off the use of their forced dues on politics and other non-bargaining functions. A victory on this argument would dramatically increase the impact of previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings won by Foundation attorneys establishing that nonunion employees cannot be lawfully compelled to pay for politics, lobbying, organizing, and a wide array of other non-bargaining activities.
Surprisingly, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation – a longtime proponent of Washington’s well-meant, but ineffective, “paycheck protection” law – argued in its amicus brief that the funds covered by the law were “miniscule… less than ¼ of 1% of the WEA’s total expenditures.” The law only governs a small fraction of union officials’ state and local electioneering expenditures.
“While there may now be nearly universal agreement that the underlying campaign finance statute has been ineffective, all agree that it is indefensible to use it as a springboard to create an even larger problem – a perversion of the long-standing interpretation of the First Amendment,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The Washington ruling cannot be allowed to stand because of the collateral damage it is already causing to employee rights nationwide. Only weeks ago, a Colorado court relied on it in a similar ruling.”
Foundation attorneys and Steven O’Ban of Ellis, Li, and McKinstry of Seattle filed Davenport in 2001 for more than 4,000 Washington teachers who are not union members, but are still forced to pay dues or be fired. In recent days, Washington Attorney General Robert McKenna also filed arguments for the state in a related case, *Washington v. WEA*.
Key Legal Documents
Merits brief filed by National Right to Work Foundation Staff Attorney Milton Chappell and Steve O’Ban (Davenport v. WEA)
Merits brief filed by Washington State Attorney General Robert McKenna (Washington v. WEA)
13 Public Policy Groups (Evergreen Freedom Foundation,Cascade Policy Institute, Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy, Excellent Education for Everyone, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Georgia Public Policy Foundation, James Madison Institute, John Locke Foundation, Nevada Policy Research Institute, Pacific Research Institute, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, Small Business Hawaii & Competitive Enterprise Institute)
Association of American Educators
American Legislative Exchange Council
Cato Institute, Reason Foundation & Center for Individual Freedom
States of Colorado, Alabama, Idaho, Ohio, Utah & Virginia
Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Religious Objector Members of the Northwest Professional Educators & Pacific Justice Institute
Pacific Legal Foundation
Institute for Justice
National Federation of Independent Business Legal Foundation & James Madison Center for Free Speech
United States Solicitor General, US Department of Labor, US Department of Justice & Federal Election Commission
Campaign Legal Center
Mountain States Legal Foundation
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.