Chicago transit worker’s suit, Mark Janus’ petition and two other cases seeking refunds all now scheduled to be considered at High Court’s October 9 conference
Washington, DC (September 25, 2020) – Staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation have just filed their reply brief with the US Supreme Court in the class-action case Casanova v. International Association of Machinists, Local 701. Thus, the petition asking the Supreme Court to hear the case is now fully briefed. The case will now be considered at the Court’s October 9 conference.
The plaintiff, Benito Casanova, a Chicago Transit Authority worker, is seeking a refund of union fees that were seized from his paycheck and the paychecks of similarly situated coworkers in violation of the First Amendment, as the landmark 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision recognized.
In Janus, which was argued and won by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the High Court ruled that requiring public sector workers to pay union dues as a condition of getting or keeping a job violates the First Amendment. The Court also held that union dues can only be deducted from the paycheck of a public worker with his or her affirmative consent. Casanova wants the Court to rule that International Association of Machinists (IAM) union bosses must return money deducted from nonmember workers’ paychecks from 2016 through 2018, in accordance with Illinois’ two-year statute of limitations.
This is now the second Foundation-backed case seeking such a refund that is currently waiting on a certiorari petition from the Court. The other is the continuation of the Janus case itself, in which the original plaintiff, former Illinois child support specialist Mark Janus, is asking the High Court to hear his case which demands a return of unconstitutional union dues from 2013 (two years before his case began) to the day the Janus decision was handed down in 2018. Janus continues to be litigated by Foundation staff attorneys in partnership with attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center, an Illinois nonprofit.
Union bosses have been using a so-called “good faith” defense at lower courts to avoid returning forced fees that were unconstitutionally seized from public employees’ paychecks. In a recent supplemental brief in Janus, Foundation attorneys point out that two of three judges on a panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently opined that such a defense is invalid, while other federal judges have upheld it. This, they argue, makes it especially vital that the Court hear the case to clear up the confusion among lower courts and ultimately reject this spurious argument allowing union officials to profit from violating workers’ constitutional rights.
Both Foundation-supported cases have been scheduled for the Court’s conference on October 9. Two other class-action cases dealing with the same issue, Danielson and Mooney, have been scheduled for the same conference. Foundation staff attorneys are actively litigating about 20 of these cases which collectively seek the return of an estimated $130 million or more in forced union fees seized from workers in violation of the First Amendment.
“The Supreme Court pointed out in the Janus decision two years ago that public sector union bosses had unjustly gained a ‘considerable windfall’ by violating the First Amendment rights of public servants who wanted to disassociate with unions,” commented National Right to Work President Mark Mix. “We are proud to stand with Mr. Janus, Mr. Casanova, and scores of other public sector workers across the country as they seek to reclaim their hard-earned dollars that union bosses refuse to return despite the Supreme Court’s clear ruling in Janus.”
“The so-called ‘good faith’ defense, which permits union bosses to continue ignoring an established Supreme Court precedent, has already been rejected by two federal judges. It is vital that the Supreme Court take up this issue to disabuse all lower courts of this flawed argument, and to ensure that the victims of union officials’ First Amendment violations finally get some justice,” Mix added.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.