Freidrichs Case Not Just About Unions

Dave Johnson

Thursday’s post, “Why You Should Pay Attention To The ‘Friedrichs’ Supreme Court Case,” looked at the issues in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case:

This time it is a case involving the rights of public-employee unions to charge employees a fee for the services the unions are required by law to provide to all employees – even those who are not members of the union. The goal is to bankrupt the unions by denying them the funds necessary to perform the required services.

The argument is that since unions protect working people’s pay and rights, paying fees for union services therefore violates the “free speech” of those who support concentrated wealth and power.

The Freidrichs case is not just about unions. It is also setting up an argument against separation of church and state. The case was brought by a teacher named Rebecca Friedrichs, backed by the Christian Educators Association. Sarah Posner explains in “Anti-union SCOTUS Challenge Threatens Church-State Separation ” at The American Prospect, (Be sure to read the whole piece, it is comprehensive.)

The lead plaintiff in the challenge before the High Court is Rebecca Friedrichs, a teacher in California’s Savanna School District; she is joined in the suit by nine additional individuals, and one organization: the Christian Educators Association International (CEAI), which bills itself as an alternative to the “secular” teachers’ unions, and argues openly that the Constitution does not bar teachers from imparting their Christian faith in their classrooms.

Should those unions find themselves on the losing side of the Friedrichs case, an important bulwark against the incursion of religion in public schools will be undermined.
[. . .] Although it is not apparent from reading CEAI’s Supreme Court brief, if the Friedrichs plaintiffs are successful, the ripple effect of their efforts could do more than undermine unions: It could open another chapter in the war over religion in public schools, emboldening groups such as CEAI to intensify efforts to allow public school teachers to endorse and promote religion with their students once their best-organized opponents—the teachers’ unions—are weakened.

See if you can guess who is paying for this case? “Representing CEAI and the other plaintiffs is the Center for Individual Rights, a pro-bono law firm whose donors are linked to the Koch brothers, the billionaires known for their opposition to labor unions.”

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