Davenport v. Washington Education Association - Oral Argument - January 10, 2007

Davenport v. Washington Education Association

Media for Davenport v. Washington Education Association

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 14, 2007 in Davenport v. Washington Education Association

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 10, 2007 in Davenport v. Washington Education Association

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We'll hear argument next in 05-1589, Davenport versus Washington Education Association, and 05-1657 consolidated, Washington versus Washington Education Association.

General McKenna.

Robert M. McKenna:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

Washington law authorizes union security agreements which permit unions to enter into collective bargaining agreements that require non-member employees to pay an agency shop fee or lose their job.

The union's authority to select these compelled fees is based solely on statute and the subject of statutory conditions.

Section 760, as adopted by Washington voters in 1992, requires unions to obtain the affirmative consent from non-members before their fees may be used to influence an election or operate a political committee.

760 serves the state's interest in election integrity by means of ensuring that union election activity is funded by voluntary contributions, just like every other organization that seeks political funds.

760 is a valid condition on the union statutory authority and does not violate the union's First Amendment rights.

760 serves the state's interests specified in the adopted initiative, which were... which are found at petition appendix 138a codified as RCW 4217.620.

Three interests in election integrity are stated, or three means of serving an interest in election integrity are stated in this portion, the intent portion of the statute.

First, to ensure that individuals have a fair and equal opportunity to influence elections; second, to reduce the influence of large organizational contributors; third, to restore public trust in the election process.

The Washington Supreme Court, petition appendix 22a-23a, agreed that the intent of Initiative 134 was to protect the integrity of the election process from the perception that individuals have an insignificant role to play.

Antonin Scalia:

I'm surprised that that's the... I would have thought its primary purpose would be to spare individuals the necessity of supporting causes that they don't support.

Was there no First Amendment interest.

Robert M. McKenna:

Justice Scalia, I--

Antonin Scalia:

Is it only an election law interest?

Robert M. McKenna:

--Actually, Justice Scalia, we believe that Section, Section 760 accomplishes both purposes.

The overall intent of the initiative was as I stated found by the State Supreme Court, but clearly from the plain language of Section 760--

Antonin Scalia:

But you just said the State Supreme Court was wrong.

I mean, why do you believe it on this if you don't believe it on everything else?

You're appealing from it, aren't you?

Robert M. McKenna:

--We believe that the integrity of the election process, Justice Scalia, is in fact served by helping ensure that individuals make voluntary contributions.

We think that in fact it does help the integrity of the election process, yes, sir.

Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

Well, how can the State Supreme Court determine what is the purpose, the intent, of the ballot initiative?

Robert M. McKenna:

I'm not certain, Your Honor.

They referred to the--

Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

A lot of people voted for it.

Robert M. McKenna:

--Right.

Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

But is the State Supreme Court in a position to determine why they voted for it?

Robert M. McKenna:

They simply hold, Your Honor, in their opinion that this is what the voters intended.