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Locke v. Karass

Docket No.: 07-610
Certiorari Granted: Feb 19 2008
Argued: October 6, 2008
Decided: January 21, 2009

PartyNames: Daniel B. Locke, et al. v. Edward A. Karass, State Controller, et al.
Petitioner: Daniel B. Locke, et al.
Respondent: Edward A. Karass, State Controller, et al.

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Daniel B. Locke, et al.
Edward A. Karass, State Controller, et al.
555 U.S. ____ (2009)
Question Presented:

In Ellis v. Railway Clerks, this Court unanimously "determined that the [Railway Labor Act], as informed by the First Amendment, prohibits the use of dissenters' [union] fees for extraunit litigation." Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Ass'n, 500 U.S. 507, 528 (1991) (opinion of Blackmun, J., citing Ellis, 466 U.S. 435, 453 (1984)). In Lehnert, a fourmember plurality therefore held "that the Amendment proscribes such assessments in the public sector." Id. Moreover, Justice Scalia's separate opinion, concurring in part in the judgment announced by Justice Blackmun, reasoned that "there is good reason to treat [Ellis and the Court's other statutory cases] as merely reflecting the constitutional rule." Id. at 555. May a State, nonetheless, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, condition continued public employment on the payment of agency fees for purposes of financing a monopoly bargaining agent's affiliates' litigation outside of a nonunion employee's bargaining unit?


Do union requirements that nonmember employees pay a service fee through a pooling arrangement, and used to fund litigation that may not specifically be for the benefit of those nonmembers, violate the First Amendment rights of those nonmember employees?

Holding: affirmed
Vote: 9-0
Opinion By:
Read LOCKE V. KARASS opinion (PDF)

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