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The Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 for the 2nd time since Scalia’s death


supreme court deadlocked collective bargaining

This Supreme Court case has to do with collective bargaining and how it gets paid for. (Bklynraised/Flickr)

For the second time since the death of Justice Antonio Scalia, the Supreme Court is deadlocked, 4-4.

This time, the case dealt with public employee unions.

The unions won, possibly only because the Supreme Court lacks a ninth justice right now.

What's this case about?

Something called "fair share" fees: Money that non-union employees must pay to the union to cover the cost of negotiating their wages, contract, etc. More than 20 states allow unions to impose these fees on non-members.

Basically, this is how unionized government workers, including teachers, help pay for what's known as collective bargaining--the union negotiating on behalf of every unionized worker. The thing is, they have to pay these fees whether they agree or disagree with what the union is demanding. So if the union is fighting with management over a certain issue, and not every employee agrees with it, they still have to pay for that fight.

Some non-union teachers in California sued over the fair share fees, claiming that the fees are unconstitutional and violate their freedom of speech and association.

The last time the Supreme Court dealt with fair-share fees was back in 1977, deciding in their favor. Now, the tie means that they'll remain legal, at least until the vacancy on the Court is filled and a full, 9-member court can vote to rehear the case.

What's interesting is that Justice Scalia made some comments in January, only weeks before he died, suggested that he would have voted against the fees.

His seat on the Court remains empty because Senate Republicans have refused to vote on President Obama's nominee, arguing that no new justices should be confirmed this close to an election. So SCOTUS has 8 members, allowing them to deadlock 4-4.

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The Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 for the 2nd time since Scalia’s death

Dana Brown

Dana is a freelance writer from Florida, the state that winter forgot. She likes video games, cats, fantasy novels, and complaining about the weather. Follow her on Twitter for intermittent whining about the First Amendment.

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