Supreme Court Split on Union Fees: Tied Decision Leaves Fees in Place; Teachers Want Case Re-heard
By law, a tie vote by the Supreme Court does not settle a legal question; it simply leaves the lower court opinion in place and reserves the legal question for a future case. In this case, the lower court (the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) was forced to rule against Friedrichs and the other teachers because they are challenging a previous Supreme Court decision and only the Supreme Court can overturn its own opinions.
“A union cannot claim to represent the interest of all workers if there is ongoing doubt about the constitutionality of its forcible collection of millions of dollars in dues. Either compulsory dues are an acceptable exception to the First Amendment or they are not. A full Court needs to decide this question and we expect this case will be re-heard when a new Justice is confirmed,” said Pell.
There are many examples in the last several decades of the Court re-hearing closely contested cases involving fundamental individual rights once a new Justice joined the bench.