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Mark Janus Returns


Human parasite Mark Janus is trying to bust unions in fresh ways. Luckily, the Seventh Circuit has rejected this bogus suit.

On Tuesday, the Seventh Circuit held that government employees who paid agency fees to public sector unions cannot recover fees collected prior to the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME.  The plaintiff in Tuesday’s case was Mark Janus himself.  Writing for a three-judge panel, Chief Judge Diane Wood explained that the good-faith defense shielded AFSCME and Illinois from liability.  When collecting fees, both the union and the state relied on the Supreme Court’s 1977 decision in Abood, which unambiguously allowed for agency fee collection for activities related to collective bargaining and contract administration, though not for union political activities.  They had no obligation to place the fees in escrow while the constitutionality of the public sector agency shop was re-litigated.

The implications of voiding agency fee retroactively for 40 years would be utterly catastrophic. It would also be a disaster to implement. Moreover, if changing court decisions made everyone liable to retroactive application, that would completely transform jurisprudence in this country and make it virtually impossible to govern. So I’d like to think that the SCOTUS will not open this enormous can of worms. On the other hand, I can see them going full Gilded Age SCOTUS Sherman Anti-Trust Act perversion for unions alone here and apply such a decision only to unions and not to anyone else. After all, there’s not much that unites the five conservatives more than the idea that unions are evil. So we will see. Any sane decision would be to reject this, just because of the implications. But this is the Roberts Court.

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