Harris v. Quinn - Oral Argument - January 21, 2014

Harris v. Quinn

Media for Harris v. Quinn

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 30, 2014 in Harris v. Quinn

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 21, 2014 in Harris v. Quinn

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We'll hear argument first this morning in Case 11-681, Harris v. Quinn.

Mr. Messenger.

William L. Messenger:

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

Illinois is forcing Susan Watts and thousands of other home care providers to pay compulsory fees to the SEIU to petition the State about its Medicaid program that pays for their services to persons with disabilities.

In Mrs. Watts' case, her daughter Libby.

This violates the First Amendment because the purpose of this mandatory association is inherently expressive.

Petition the government for a redress of grievances, otherwise, lobby.

And also because this program--

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

I thought it was to negotiate -- or it's typically negotiated in collective bargaining; that is, wages, is that not so?

Wages and benefits?

William L. Messenger:

--The subjects of bargaining here are the reimbursement rates given to the providers and the State now offers or pays money to the SEIU for a health benefit.

But that is petitioning the government with regard to those negotiations.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

But how does it differ from the typical bargaining that a union does?

It asks for a wage rate and it asks for various benefits.

So are you saying that when it's a public -- in the public sector, it gets converted into something else?

William L. Messenger:


When -- in the public sector when a group is petitioning the government for money, that is, petitioning the government over a public program, here from a Medicaid program.

It would be very little different than if the American Medical Association was asking for higher Medicaid rates for doctors or for nurses.

Sonia Sotomayor:

Is your argument dependent on this being sort of a dual employee situation, that it's reimbursement as opposed to policemen, fire -- police people, fire people, teachers, other public -- other public employees who are directly employed by the State?

William L. Messenger:

That is our position for why Abood is distinguishable on that point, is that here the State is not the common law employer or the sole employer of these providers.

It simply pays them for their services, much like a health insurer pays for the services of medical professionals.

Elena Kagan:

But your argument, of course, isn't limited to that.

It goes beyond that situation?

William L. Messenger:


And that the -- the actual bargaining, even on behalf of true employees, is also petitioning and political in nature, and for that reason Abood should be overruled.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

Is there any likelihood that the union that represents these, what I call them healthcare workers, health providers, care providers, is there any likelihood that they would try to bargain for benefits for these -- these workers?

William L. Messenger:

Would the union attempt to?

Anthony M. Kennedy:

Yes, yes.

Is there any likelihood?

Do we know anything about what the likelihood would be for certain subjects to be brought up in the bargaining with the State?