In a 5-4 decision by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court dealt a serious blow to public sector unions on Monday, although the opinion fell short of the claim made by the anti-union litigation shop that argued that case, which sought to undermine the finances of all public sector unions. The plaintiffs in this case, and their anti-union attorneys, argued that non-union members cannot be required to reimburse unions that bargain on their behalf for the costs it incurred during that bargaining. Without those reimbursements, the financial viability of the unions is in jeopardy.
Alito’s opinion in Harris v. Quinn recognizes a category of “partial public employees” who cannot be required to contribute funds to the collective bargaining that they benefit from. This case involved Medicaid home health workers who are paid by the state but who work directly for individual patients. Nevertheless, the case hints that the Court will deal additional blows to public sector unions in the future. Alito labels a seminal Supreme Court opinion allowing unions to collect reimbursements from nonmembers “questionable on several grounds.”
That case is 1977's Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which upheld that public employees could unionize. Alito dropped several hints in his decision that an open challenge to that ruling would find fertile ground (or at least five votes to sink it.)
Alito then went on to blow a hole in 120+ years of established legal precedent involving the religious rights of corporate entities in the Hobby Lobby case.
If you’re one of the estimated 14,000 individuals who work at Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood — the companies who represented the two plaintiffs in the case — then you’re most immediately affected by Monday’s decision. Your employers no longer have to cover several types of birth control that they’re opposed to.
Both companies object to covering emergency contraception, which they falsely claim is a type of abortion despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. Hobby Lobby’s owners also take issue with two forms of intrauterine devices (IUDs), long lasting forms of birth control inserted in the uterus, for the same unscientific reason. So the workers employed by those businesses won’t be able to use their insurance coverage for those types of birth control anymore. They’ll presumably be able to continue using their health plans for other methods, like hormonal birth control pills, that their bosses don’t have a problem with.
But even if you don’t work at Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood, there’s a chance that your birth control coverage may be put into question. More than 70 other companies also sued for the right to stop following Obamacare’s contraceptive provision. According to the National Women’s Law Center, 48 of those cases are still pending. Now that the Court has sided with Hobby Lobby, it will be much easier for some of those companies to win their suits and opt out of covering certain types of contraception.
And now that this decision has opened the door to "closely-held" corporations having the same religious freedoms as the family that owns them,, and being able to subject their employees to those beliefs, a whole lot more douchebaggery is coming down the pike.
In her epic dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that the Senate blocked an amendment to the Affordable Care Act that would have given Hobby Lobby the religious exemption they later sued for. In other words, this is a perfect example of real judicial overreach, and litigating from the bench.
But that's how SCOTUS works these days, slowly rolling back laws passed by Democrats.