Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association - Oral Argument - January 11, 2016

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Media for Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 29, 2016 in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 11, 2016 in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We'll hear argument this morning in Case 14-915, Friedrichs v. The California Teachers Association, et al. Mr. Carvin.

Michael A. Carvin:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court: Every year, Petitioners are required to provide significant support to a group that advocates an ideological viewpoint which they oppose and do not wish to subsidize.

Abood's authorization of this clear First Amendment violation should be overturned, both to end this ongoing deprivation of basic speech and association rights, and to restore consistency and predictability to the Court's First Amendment jurisprudence.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Mr. Carvin, is it permissible, in your view, to allow the union to be the exclusive representative so that nobody else is at the bargaining table?

Michael A. Carvin:

Yes, that's fine with us.

Our objection, of course, is being forced to subsidize that exclusive representative. The fact that they are exclusive representative impinges on my clients because it disables them from individually negotiating with the school board, but that is justified by the need for an exclusive representative. And that is why, indeed, requiring agency fees in the collective bargaining context is less justified than, for example, requiring agency fees to support union lobby. In the -- in collective bargaining context, we are required to free ride on the union because they are the exclusive representative and we don't have our own vehicle.

So the free-rider justification is far weaker in the collective bargaining context than it is in the union lobbying context.

Antonin Scalia:

Mr. Carvin, is -- is it okay to force somebody to contribute to a cause that he does believe in?

Michael A. Carvin:

I wouldn't think, Your Honor, that you could force Republicans to give contributions.

Antonin Scalia:

Yes.

That's -- that's what I'm thinking.

Could you enact a law? Let's say the national political parties are in trouble so they enact a law that says all -- all members of the Republican party, if you want to be a member you have to contribute so much money.

Michael A. Carvin:

No.

Antonin Scalia:

Is that okay?

Michael A. Carvin:

No, it's not, and that's because the bedrock principle, as Harris made clear, is not whether or not you vividly oppose what they're saying --

Antonin Scalia:

Right.

Michael A. Carvin:

-- it's because you don't wish to subsidize it.

Antonin Scalia:

Exactly.

So I don't know why you're putting so much emphasis on the fact that your -- your clients oppose.

It really wouldn't matter, would it?

Michael A. Carvin:

No.

And I don't -- I did want to point out that that's the reason that they've brought this lawsuit.

But -- but no, you're a thousand percent right, Your Honor.

You don't --

Anthony M. Kennedy:

If -- if you were to prevail, what would happen with private employers in a State which said that there should be an -- a union shop?

Michael A. Carvin:

Nothing, Your Honor.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

What --

Michael A. Carvin:

For two --

Anthony M. Kennedy:

And -- and because?

Michael A. Carvin:

Because the First Amendment doesn't apply to private employers, and because in Beck the Court established the rules for agency shops based on the statute without any First Amendment --