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An evenly divided U.S. Supreme Court announced a 4 to 4 deadlock on Tuesday in a major case that could have dealt a fatal blow to public unions, reports the Washington Post.

According to the Post, the even split means the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit stands: Public employee unions can collect dues from nonmembers for collective-bargaining activities.

This is a setback to conservatives who believed they would have won the case if Justice Antonin Scalia was still alive.

Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute issued this statement, via the Washington Post:

“The death of Justice Scalia has proved a disaster for public sector workers who have their paychecks raided by unions. With the court gridlocked, government unions will continue to take dues from nonmembers, whether they like it or not. Four justices have voted against the free speech rights of workers to prop up labor union power.”

The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, involved a group of California teachers who said requiring them to pay union dues violated their free speech rights. It became a political struggle between Democratic-leaning unions and conservative Republicans who want to break the unions’ political and economic influence.

Unions, which have been in decline for decades, hailed the high court’s deadlock as a victory, according to the newspaper.

The Washington Post reported this comment from National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García following the court’s announcement:

“In Friedrichs, the court saw through the political attacks on the workplace rights of teachers, educators and other public employees. This decision recognizes that stripping public employees of their voices in the workplace is not what our country needs.”

She called the case a “political ploy” designed to “silence” the voices of those employees—from cafeteria workers to college professors—involved in education.

Meanwhile, the standoff continues between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans over filling the Supreme Court’s vacancy.

SOURCE: Washington Post | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty 


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