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PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI: Jonathan Reisman v. Associated Faculties of the University of Maine

January 2, 2020
By Buckeye Institute

Petition to the Supreme Court, which "has recognized that schemes compelling public-sector employees to associate with labor unions impose a 'significant impingement' on those employees’ First Amendment rights."

As a condition of his employment as a public university professor, Petitioner Jonathan Reisman is compelled by Maine law to accept a labor union as his “sole and exclusive bargaining agent” to speak for him on what this Court has recognized to be “matters of substantial public concern.” Janus v. Am. Fed’n of State, Cty., & Mun. Employees, Council 31, 138 S. Ct. 2448, 2460 (2018). That state-law requirement is, as this Court observed in Janus, “a significant impingement on associational freedoms that would not be tolerated in other contexts.” Id. at 2478. Yet the courts below, and others to consider the issue, have refused to subject such arrangements to any degree of constitutional scrutiny, on the mistaken view that this Court’s decision in Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight, 465 U.S. 271 (1984), held that they involve no impingement of First Amendment rights at all.
The result of those decisions is to broadly sanction compelled representation of unwilling public employees and subsidy recipients like home healthcare workers, irrespective of their speech and associational interests. In this instance, Maine law recognizes a labor union as representing and speaking on behalf of Professor
Reisman, despite that he vehemently opposes its positions and advocacy on issues ranging from fiscal policy to university governance. Yet the union, per Maine law, regularly speaks for him on these issues in collective bargaining sessions, through “meet and discuss” sessions on matters of academic and university policy, in grievance proceedings, and elsewhere.