Minnesota Bd. For Community Colleges v. Knight

PETITIONER:Minnesota Bd. For Community Colleges
LOCATION:Sugar Camp Road

DOCKET NO.: 82-898
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)

CITATION: 465 US 271 (1984)
ARGUED: Nov 01, 1983
DECIDED: Feb 21, 1984

Eric R. Miller – on behalf of the Appellants
Edwin Vieira, Jr. – on behalf of the Appellees

Facts of the case


Media for Minnesota Bd. For Community Colleges v. Knight

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 01, 1983 in Minnesota Bd. For Community Colleges v. Knight

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – February 21, 1984 in Minnesota Bd. For Community Colleges v. Knight

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion in Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges against Knight and the related case will also be announced by Justice O’Connor.

Sandra Day O’Connor:

These cases are on appeal from the United States District Court, District of Minnesota, Fourth Division.

They are not as easily explained orally from the bench as the prior case.

They concern Minnesota’s meet and confer statute for it state employees.

The statute authorizes that state employees to bargain collectively over terms and conditions of employment and it also grants its professional employees, such as the college faculty, the right to meet and confer with their employing agencies on matters related to employment that are outside the scope of mandatory bargaining.

However, if the professional employees have selected an exclusive representative for mandatory bargaining, their employing agency may meet and confer on the nonmandatory subjects only with the exclusive representative.

The appellant Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges operates the Minnesota community college system.

The appellant Minnesota Community College Faculty Association is the designated exclusive representative of the faculty of the State’s community colleges.

The appellees are 20 community college faculty and instructors who are not members of the Faculty Association.

The appellees filed suit in the Federal District Court challenging the constitutionality of the Minnesota meet and confer processes.

The District Court held that the meet and confer provisions of the statute deprived appellees of their First and Fourteenth Amendment speech and associational rights by denying them an opportunity to participate in their employer’s making of policy.

The District Court granted declaratory and injunctive relief.

In an opinion filed today, we reverse and hold that the meet and confer provisions do not violate appellees’ constitutional rights.

Appellees have no First Amendment or other constitutional right, either as members of the public, as state employees or as college instructors to force officers of the State acting in an official policymaking capacity to listen or respond to appellees’ views.

Neither appellees’ status as public employees nor the fact that an academic setting is involved gives them any special constitutional right to a voice in the making of policy by their employer.

Even assuming that First Amendment speech rights take on a special meaning in an academic setting, they do not require government to allow teachers to participate in institutional policymaking.

The State has a legitimate interest in ensuring that its public employers hear one and only one voice presenting the majority view of its professional employees on employment-related policy questions.

The statute in the holding of the Court today does not deny appellees’ equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Justice Marshall has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

Justice Brennan has filed a dissenting opinion.

Justice Stevens has also filed a dissenting opinion in parts of which Justices Brennan and Powell have joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Justice O’Connor.