Paycheck Protection, the Supreme Court, & School Choice

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation has won a huge legal battle today. Today the United States Supreme Court announced it has overturned the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling in Washington v. Washington Education Association and Davenport v. Washington Education Association (WEA). The cases are the culmination of a decade’s worth of work by concerned teachers and the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF), a Washington state think tank. The Court’s ruling could potentially affect millions of union-represented workers nationwide. The Court held today in Davenport that because a public-employee union possesses nonmember feepayers’ funds only because of special state- conferred privileges, the state can place a content- based condition on the union’s use of those funds — namely, that the union obtain the feepayers’ consent before using the funds for election-related activity. Several states have passed paycheck protection laws in recent years, including Washington, Michigan, Idaho and Utah. In each case the laws came under relentless legal assault by unions desperate to protect their power to force members to fund their political agenda, regardless of the member’s personal views. This ruling has serious implication for choice-based school reform. In Utah for example, the recently passed universal school voucher legislation has now been held up for a popular vote in a November 2007 intitiative. This ruling should make it more difficult for local unions to divert dues to fight this school voucher program without specific teacher consent. Obviously, national unions will still direct large amounts of money to fight choice in Utah. Similarly, local union dues are used in every kind of political campaign against choice-based reforms from opposing pro charter school school board members to fighting any state legislation that has choice implications.