A 4-4 split Supreme Court on Tuesday left in place a lower court ruling that allows public unions to collect fees from non-members.
After arguments in January, it had appeared that a 5-4 court was going to strike down so-called “agency fees,” but the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February upended the case.
The decision marks a victory for unions that was completely unexpected when the Supreme Court agreed to hear Rebecca Friedrichs’ case this past June, and the strongest sign yet of the changed composition of the court without Scalia.
The Supreme Court issued an opinion this morning in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, rejecting an attempt to restrict the rights of teachers, firefighters, police officers, nurses and other people who serve the public to band together in a union.
Nonetheless, dozens of cases like Friedrichs are working their way through the lower courts, with new lawsuits filed in Washington, Oregon and New York in February alone. The same handful of billionaires also is bankrolling efforts by state and local legislators to push laws making it harder for people to form unions.