Gov. Bruce Rauner reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether forcing workers in a unionized workplace to pay dues was a First Amendment breach. In what otherwise would have been a transformative ruling, the Supreme Court was split on whether public sector unions across the country could force workers to pay dues. Rauner, in Danville Tuesday, called the split ruling a tragedy.


“Many justices have said that every activity of a government union is political by its very nature,” Rauner said, “it’s a violation of free speech and political choice if employees are forced to pay dues in an organization they don’t want to be a part of.”

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Many unions officials were nervous after the January hearing left political pundits all but certain the nation’s highest court would rule that all public union activity was political and forcing dues was a violation of their members’ First Amendment rights. Without a fifth vote from the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, a 4-4 vote meant the California court’s ruling stood and unions could still force dues from their members.


Rauner said that if Scalia were alive, the decision would have gone against the forced-unionization status quo that’s been in place for nearly four decades.


“If Justice Scalia were alive, he made it pretty clear he supported the freedom of government employees to choose.”


The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers praised the ruling in a statement, saying, “The Constitution, the law, and the facts are on our side, and we remain confident that we will continue to prevail against the onslaught of baseless litigation from those focused on trying to silence working people in order to benefit themselves at the expense of the rest of us.”


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