Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court took a significant step toward restoring individual liberty for all government employees, including faculty in public universities and colleges, with its decision in Janus v. AFSCME. Faculty members will no longer be forced to pay any labor union any fee for any purpose as a condition of continued government employment.
Janus overturned the Court’s 1977 decision in Abood v. Board of Education against which I and thousands of fellow liberty-loving public higher education faculty have long struggled. Abood prohibited unions from charging faculty for their explicit political advocacy but permitted them to charge faculty for their activities as exclusive bargaining agents, even if the individual wanted no such representation. The Janus Court ruled that all such activities are inherently political so mandatory charges to pay for them violate the First Amendment.
I feel vindicated by Janus; and, to the extent that the decision weakens the influence of faculty unions, it gives me hope that higher education may gradually turn back to academic inquiry and away from the herd pursuit of political correctness. Aristotle said, “Hope is a waking dream.” I have such a dream.