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Today in the Laboratories of Democracy



Republicans being Republican. First in the shitshow known as North Carolina:

Three Republicans in North Carolina’s House of Representatives have introduced a bill to reverse the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in the state.

H.B. 780, reported by WNCN Tuesday, states that the Supreme Court’s ruling declaring that same-sex couples are guaranteed the right to marry overstepped the court’s constitutional bounds.

The Nullification Caucus are the nicest people.

Granted this won’t pass. On the other hand, Texas. Once again, the Lone Star State makes us wish we had lost the U.S. lost the Mexican War.

Minors in the state may be required to obtain parental approval before they can join a labor union under a proposal the Texas Senate tentatively approved along party lines Monday. (The Senate formally approved the bill Tuesday on a 20-11 vote.)

Under current state law, minors can secure most types of employment without parental consent, with a few exceptions such as acting jobs in movies and plays or soliciting goods and services.

Senate Bill 75 by state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, would require parental consent for minors to join a union, but contains provisions to accommodate those who are emancipated from parents or a guardian.

“My bill preserves the rights of parents to see economic decisions,” Nelson said. In a committee hearing last month, Nelson said she filed the measure in response to concerns from a constituent whose daughter “was persuaded to join a union without fully understanding” the terms of agreement. “This bill is a parental consent bill,” she added.

Why pass this?

Between 1,500 and 2,000 minors in Texas currently belong to a local United Food and Commercial Workers chapter, a private-sector union representing baggers and clerks at grocery stores across the state, according to Anthony Elmo, the group’s communications and political director.

Republicans won’t stop until their unholy war against worker rights is won. I’m not sure this is even constitutional, but what does that matter anymore.

And really, you have to love Texas. Government in your uterus and in your union card, but no, have all the guns you want.

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  • Dilan Esper

    Any experts on the Wagner Act out there? My first reaction is this has to be preempted. The Wagner Act creates a federal right to join a union and collectively bargain. There’s a carve out for right to work, but other than that states aren’t supposed to curtail it.

    Am I wrong?

    • Gwen

      I had the same thought Dilan but I’m not an expert.

      This seems like an attempt to win a Koch/ALEC Wingnut Trophy.

    • Joseph Slater

      While I don’t believe this specific type of state law has been litigated before, IMHO the NLRA clearly preempts it (as to employees covered by the NLRA).

      • JdLaverty

        From what I know from organizing the nlra creates a clear, unambiguous right for private sector employees to join a union irrespective of age (with some exceptions for certain industries, exceptions that don’t apply to this and most other UFCW locals). So any law that takes that decision out of the employees hands should as you said be preempted. You never know though; when it comes to unions conservative judges have shown themselves to be willing to essentially pull reasonings out of a hat and make shit up if it furthers the goal of dicking around with collective bargaining rights

        • efgoldman

          conservative judges have shown themselves to be willing to essentially pull reasonings out of a hat

          More the other end, I think.

  • efgoldman

    Fifty-plus years of massive resistance to SCOTUS decisions, to statutes, to the constitution….

    I’d ask what the fuck is wrong with those people, but I know.
    Revanchist assholes. Wipe them out.

    • los


  • Gwen

    Oh, the State Senate is insane.

    And btw there has also been attempts here to nullify the Obergefell decision. The State Supreme Court inexplicably heard a case claiming that somehow Texas was exempt from it. And the State Senate voted on a bill just the other day to immunize clerks who don’t want to issue marroage licenses to the icky gays (note: I include myself in the icky gays).

    I imagine the first GOP caucus meeting started with Lt. Dan doing his best Glengarry Glenross (“coffee is for social reactionaries ONLY!”). I say this because these mediocrities all seem to be trying to out-crazy each other, as if a box of steak knives were on the line.

    The Texas House on the other hand has been much more pragmatic. To be sure they will probably pass a budget that guts Planned Parenthood support. But for the most part they have been a bulwark against bathroom bills, school vouchers, etc.

    Maybe a more accurate analogy is “The Gong Show.” State senators have enough exposure such that they can aim to “make a name for themselves” by promoting bullshit bills that stir up “the base.” Whereas nobody knows who serves in the House; they are practically anonymous; so they can go about the boring work of quasi-bipartisan sausagemaking.

    • Karen24

      House districts are small enough that representatives still run into constituents at the grocery store, where they can be yelled at for being stupid. Thus, rural Republicans joined with reps from urban districts to kill the voucher bill so beloved of Lieutenant Dan. Also, Straus is a cold-eyed pragmatist who dislikes Dan Patrick in the same way that everyone dislikes fire ants.

      • Thom

        My guess is that Straus is the bigger part of this equation, and though I hate Republican politicians in general, given the Republican majority I am glad he’s there.

  • mainerobinson

    I’m not sure this is even constitutional, . . .

    Christ. We shouldn’t even need a Constitution that prohibits stuff this whacked.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      I’m pretty sure that “Constitutional” is whatever at least 5 votes on the SC say it is.

      Given the latest addition, therefore, I think Erik is right to say he’s “not even sure”.

      • JdLaverty

        Frankly I’m suprised that there’s never been a serious constitutional challenge to RTW laws (I wouldn’t count the Wisconsin Fed court ruling a year or so back as posing a serious threat). The laws seem to be a pretty clear violation of the 5th amendment takings clause. I can’t think of any other scenario in which a private organization was forced to provide expensive services without any compensation or means to collect it (imagine how hysterical corporate America would get if you passed a law requiring gas stations or financial advisors to serve customers who could then just decide not to pay)

        • mds

          I can’t think of any other scenario in which a private organization was forced to provide expensive services without any compensation or means to collect it

          Well, I imagine the counterargument would be that the union isn’t forced to provide those expensive services at all. In fact, many states have been willing to step up and relieve them of the ability to provide many of their services. You’re welcome, unions!

          • JdLaverty

            The union is forced to provide those services though; under exclusive representative laws once you win the election your local is legally required to represent and bargain on behalf of all the employees, even the assholes that spat in your face and backstabbed their coworkers during the campaign. That’s the entire point of right to work laws; leave in place the requirement that the union serve everyone (which costs a fuck ton of dollars when it comes to really big contracts) but take away the requirement that non members pay a tiny fee to the organization that got them their pension, healthcare and 25% raise. RTW law’s sole purpose is to encourage freeloading and sap the union of resources. Hence fifth amendment takings clause.

        • yet_another_lawyer

          I’m not sure this is right. “If you choose to engage in this enterprise, you must do ” is incredibly common. E.g., “You don’t have to practice law, but if you want to practice in this state, you must do hours of pro bono per year” is very common. So is, “Your client has stopped paying you, but fuck you represent him anyway.” So is, “You don’t have to open a hospital, but if you do your emergency room is obligated to treat everybody even if they can’t pay.” A reading of the takings clause broad enough to capture RTW would strongly imply a lot of other generally accepted laws and practices are unconstitutional.

  • Seitz

    And really, you have to love Texas. Government in your uterus and in your union card, but no, have all the guns you want.

    Hell, it’s worse than that. More like wanna have an abortion or join a union, here’s 15-20 hoops to jump through. Wanna open a chemical plant in the middle of a residential zone (Ha!, as if Texas had zoning) with no oversight by state inspectors? Have at it!!

  • Phil Perspective

    Republicans won’t stop until their unholy war against worker rights is won. I’m not sure this is even constitutional, but what does that matter anymore.

    And this is why the Democrats lose. When the GOP wins, they look to destroy the opposition. The Democrats don’t do anything of the sort. In fact they’ll beg the GOP to play nice even after the GOP figuratively spits in their eye.

    • Brett

      Not 100% true, but not totally false either. A significant constituency in the Democratic Party has a very strong belief in good government and honest processes, something Eric pointed out in the thread about Senator Markey’s stupid filibuster comments. They’ll stubbornly cling to that even when it’s no longer tenable, and when unable to defend it will say that they’re refusing to sink to the conservatives’ level (I’m about 90% certain Dilan has said something like this before in a comment on LGM).

      I suspect there’s also a professional and upper class distaste for the “tawdriness” of dirtier politics, especially if that goes beyond civil disobedience to more violent action.

      • Brett

        Sorry, I should add that when we’re talking about “good governance” from these folks, we’re also talking about stuff that favors the professional and affluent class. I don’t think they’re being openly mercenary about it (most of the time) – they genuinely believe that their self-interest is synonymous with the public good.

        I remember Megan McArdle (of all people) making a good comment about this type of thing back when Marion Berry died:

        Nice upper-middle-class people have always recoiled from ethnic retail politics. It’s so … grubby. There’s too much naked quid pro quo, not enough objective rule-making that only coincidentally has the effect of ensuring that public services are disproportionately showered on the economically vital precincts of the upper middle class. (I kid — but not really.)

        • Rob in CT

          Wow. McMeghan said something… insightful.

          • rea


    • JdLaverty

      I happen to agree here. What do republicans do when they take over state governments? Voter suppression, union bashing, the gutting of any remaining campaign finance laws that might be on the books and so on (we should expect this from the federal government soon). Whereas democrats tend to focus on achieving their legislative priorities while doing nothing to protect their legs from being kicked out from under them and then they’re shocked when things like WI act 10 or voter ID laws screw them at election time. Healthcare and minimum wage and all that shit is great but you’ll never get a chance to pass it if you don’t take steps to protect yourself from a party that has given up on representative democracy and is a literal threat to the American idea of self government. I still dream of what life would be like if they’d been able to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (would’ve made my job a fuck ton easier) whether it was a lack of interest from Obama or one stubborn senator who was never going to budge isn’t clear. But I wonder if making it as big of a priority as obamacare (it’s almost as important) would’ve had a different result.

      • Rob in CT

        Ok, let’s run with this.

        So, Dems sweep into power. What organizations should they target? Do for real what the wingnuts falsely claimed the IRS was doing under Obama?

  • Gregor Sansa

    Texas may be evil, but it still has good in it. I can already see the moment coming when it will hurl the rest of the regressive South down onto the reactor core. That could happen as early as 2020, and when it does, ewok party time.

    • mds

      So … in this scenario, Texas is Darth Vader? I’m not sure he’s malevolent enough, but okay. I hope we get at least thirty years until the First Order blows up the government, though.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Sith… South. Coincidence? I think not.

  • Joe_JP

    Fan of wedding announcements in the NYT & the section last Sunday had discussion on the first time it announced one for same sex couples. Another thing I notice is a lot of Universal Life Church ministers presiding over weddings, which technically might be a problem in at least some areas of NY (and other places).

    Anyway, there is a case going on about religious freedom protections specifically targeted to certain views of marriage. The fight the next few years won’t be same sex marriages directly, but things like that. The betting line that a case involving bakeries selling wedding cakes being accepted seems to be approaching even money now that the Court is kinda at full strength. (Last member has an asterisk next to his name.)

  • ice9

    I can’t get beyond ‘Flower Mound.’ That’s a place in Texas, and an epithet in a Nabokov novel.


  • Bitter Scribe

    “My bill preserves the rights of parents to see economic decisions.”

    Great! Let’s just require parental approval for anything teenagers buy.

  • Origami Isopod

    It’s DOA.

    Meanwhile, Texas is going to let judges “recuse themselves” rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Because RELIJUSS FREADUMB.

  • Tsotate

    Legality aside, how can the union bill be relevant? Minors already can’t enter contracts, so they need parental permission to join the union now.

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