PowerLine Daily Digest – • Will Supreme Court Deal a Major Blow to Public Sector Unions?

PowerLine Daily Digest – • Will Supreme Court Deal a Major Blow to Public Sector Unions?



Daily Digest

The Fun Indicator

Posted: 11 Jan 2016 01:45 PM PST

(Steven Hayward)

I recall that during the Reagan campaign in 1980, Nancy Reagan would “bowl” an orange down the aisle of the campaign plane on takeoff. Ronald Reagan would sometimes take part, and occasionally throw an orange down the aisle. The Washington Post reported at the time:

Each time the campaign plane roars upward from a runway, Mrs. Reagan assumes a position in the center aisle at the head of the plane. Looking as competitive as a professional athlete who has thousands of dollars riding on the next shot, the 57-year-old former actress carefully bowls an orange down the steeply banked aisle and watches intently to see if the missile can travel all the way to the plane’s rear door without running astray amid the seats and bulkheads.

If she succeeds, Mrs. Reagan smiles broadly and graciously accepts the laughs, whistles and shouts of approval from her fellow travelers. But if the orange smashes midway into a foot or briefcase or seat, she calls for another and tries again — sometimes half a dozen times — until she hits the mark.

This came back to me as I read a note this morning from Republican political consultant Alex Castellanos posted at CNN, where he suggests that the candidate/campaign that is having the most fun will win.  Call it the “fun indicator” of presidential politics. After telling a long story about how he learned this lesson (worth taking in at the link if you have time), Castellanos notes:

Which returns us to a reflection that should scare all of us in Washington’s GOP establishment, as noted in an interview conducted by Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press.”

Donald Trump is having a lot of fun, isn’t he?

More than anyone else.

Yup. And conversely, does anyone think the Crooked Hillary Clinton campaign is much fun to be around? And Bernie Sanders? Probably as much fun as an alcohol-free union local meeting.

Will Supreme Court Deal a Major Blow to Public Sector Unions?

Posted: 11 Jan 2016 12:24 PM PST

(John Hinderaker)

Public sector unions are probably, nationwide, the number one obstacle to progress. Today a critically important case relating to public employee unions, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, was argued in the Supreme Court. My colleague Kim Crockett, who works with me at the Center of the American Experiment, is a leading voice in Minnesota on employee freedom. She was at the Supreme Court this morning to support Rebecca Friedrichs and follow the arguments. This is her report:

I spent the morning on the steps of our Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. standing with and for a teacher named Rebecca Friedrichs. Mrs. Friedrichs, a dedicated fourth grade teacher from California, is suing to end forced agency fees paid to the teachers’ unions (Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association). She believes they violate her First Amendment rights.

Talk about a David versus Goliath contest! Rebecca Friedrichs’ team was up against the resources and power of organized labor, the federal government and the State of California. Nevertheless, early reports are encouraging.

Mrs. Friedrichs had about 100 people at her rally, and I would guess about twice that number for the unions, maybe more. It was a smaller and more muted demonstration on the side of unions than I expected.

The “fair share” or “agency fee”, endorsed by a unanimous Supreme Court in 1977 (Abood v. Detroit Board of Education) is a concession (or booby prize, depending on your point of view) to public employees who do not want to join a union. The idea is that the fee only covers the costs of “agency”—i.e., the costs of representing non-members in negotiating and enforcing collective bargaining agreements. The fee is not supposed to be spent on politicking.

Mrs. Friedrichs wants Abood overruled, arguing that collective bargaining is inherently political, so that there is no way to separate the wheat (representation) from the chaff (politicking). Whether it is wages and benefits, education policy, pension reform, or the inequality debate, the unions are deep into politics and policy, playing a dominant role in Minnesota and across the nation.

My friend Vinnie Vernuccio, Director of Labor Policy at the Mackinac Center, put it this way: “Whether it is taxpayer dollars funding increased salary and benefits over parks or roads, or public policy issues such as seniority and merit pay, everything government employees do is political. And public workers have a First Amendment right not to support politics they disagree with.”

Collective bargaining, in the context of public employees, is political speech.

Kim Crockett (left) and Rebecca Friedrichs on the Supreme Court steps this morning

While we may have to wait until June for a decision, the mood of court observers today, including Vernuccio, was one of excitement for Friedrichs. Over and over, lawyers I talked to on the Court steps said that it felt like a 5-4 decision for Friedrichs.

Going in, there was concern about Justice Scalia (because of an earlier case), but observers report Scalia saying something to the effect that collective bargaining is inherently political, the winning theory of this case. That may be cause for optimism.

Even Chief Justice Roberts is reported to have focused his guns on the unions and government, while Justice Kennedy was described by one long-time observer as “on fire” for the First Amendment.

Going in, Friedrichs’s team was not concerned about Justice Thomas, or Justice Alito. Thomas is a solid supporter (and as is his style, silent today on the bench). Alito, who did not say much today, had essentially invited lawyers to bring this case in two recent decisions involving agency fees. He framed this issue.

The left wing of the Court (Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor) would seem to be sure votes against Friedrichs, but who knows? Maybe one or two of them will get in touch with their inner rebel.

Vernuccio characterized the morning this way: “The questions from the justices show that the premise of the case may be upheld: that collective bargaining in the public sector is inherently political.”

Vernuccio also told me that when the justices asked for examples of collective bargaining issues that are not political, the opposition came up with just one. One lawyer suggested mileage reimbursements, but even that was shot down.

This is why much has been written about the Friedrichs case (e.g., my op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune today), and much more will be written, especially if the Court’s ruling restores full free speech rights to Mrs. Friedrichs.

All hell will break lose on the left and in the mainstream media, but I think the average Joe and Suzy out there will get it. How can the government force a teacher, or any public employee, to support speech to which she objects?

We will report when the Court’s decision comes down, but that likely won’t be until June. In the meantime, the Center of the American Experiment is leading the fight for employee freedom (both public and private) in Minnesota, and any contribution you might want to make will be welcome.

The Bill Comes Due: Cosby vs. Clinton

Posted: 11 Jan 2016 11:04 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)

Question: Would Bill Cosby be facing criminal charges if he hadn’t departed from liberal orthodoxy? Keep in mind that the old rumors and ugly stories were reignited by a liberal black comic, Hannibal Burress, who objected to Cosby’s controversial speeches from a few years ago criticizing urban black culture. If Cosby had kept to the politically correct line, I doubt he’d be facing charges. After all, look at the pass Bill Clinton has gotten. Take, for example, the remarks of Joy Behar on The View last week:

JOY BEHAR: Chappaquiddick.  I mean, a girl drowns and he abandons her and she drowned and women still voted for Teddy Kennedy. Why? Because he voted for women’s rights. That’s why. That’s the bottom line of it in my opinion. I mean, I don’t like either one of them, to tell you the truth, Teddy or Bill. They’re both dogs as far as I’m concerned. But I still will vote for Bill Clinton because he votes in my favor.

In other words, if you’re good on the feminist agenda (which really just means abortion), you can get away with sexual assault. But now liberals are being hoist by their own petard, as this segment from Morning Joe on MSNBC (!!) today with former Rep. Harold Ford shows. The usually smooth and self-assured Ford is clearly uncomfortable and on the defensive with this topic. And on Meet the Press yesterday, Chuck Todd mentioned twice that the Clinton camp is very nervous about the matter.

I wonder if we might yet see Hillary and Bill hauled off to court.

Breaking: The New Republic Implodes

Posted: 11 Jan 2016 09:19 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)

Over the last couple of years we’ve noted here, here, here, and here about the travails of the once-worthy New Republic under its punk owner Chris Hughes, a Facebook mogul who thought his early riches equaled wisdom. Today the predictable announcement was made: Hughes is dumping the magazine:

The New Republic, the century-old magazine that was rocked a year ago by the mass exodus of its staff following an effort by its owner to make it more digitally focused, is being put up for sale.

Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook who purchased a majority stake in the struggling title in 2012, said in a staff memo Monday that he had underestimated “the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate,” and would seek to find a new owner.

“After investing a great deal of time, energy, and over $20 million, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for new leadership and vision at The New Republic,” the memo read. “Although I do not have the silver bullet, a new owner should have the vision and commitment to carry on the traditions that make this place unique and give it a new mandate for a new century.”

Boy, no one could see this coming.

UPDATE: Ira Stoll of the New York Sun has more here.

Report: FBI’s Clinton probe extends to public corruption

Posted: 11 Jan 2016 08:23 AM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)

According to Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne of Fox News, the FBI investigation into Crooked Hillary Clinton includes not just the email scandal, but also a probe into whether the possible “intersection” of Clinton Foundation work and State Department business may have violated public corruption laws. Herridge and Browne cite “three intelligence sources not authorized to speak on the record.”

“The agents are investigating the possible intersection of Clinton Foundation donations, the dispensation of State Department contracts and whether regular processes were followed,” one source said.

The development follows press reports over the past year about the potential overlap of State Department and Clinton Foundation work, and questions over whether donors benefited from their contacts inside the administration.

There is plenty to investigate here. Relying on Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash, we have written about some of it. See here, here, and here (where I predicted, perhaps rashly, that there would be no public corruption charges) just by way of example.

The FBI’s investigation into public corruption by Crooked Hillary Clinton reportedly began in April of last year. This was around the time that Schweizer’s book received notice, including by the New York Times and Washington Post.

A dual investigations of these scandals — (1) use of the private server to transmit and receive classified and other sensitive information and (2) corruption in connection with the Clinton Foundation — seems like a formidable task. Herridge and Browne say that approximately 100 FBI special agents are working on the matters and that up to 50 more may have been temporarily assigned.

I just wonder how long the investigations will take, particularly the one into corruption, and how the timetable might mesh with the presidential race.


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