In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom…
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Image of the Day: More Economic Freedom = Higher Standard of Living

In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom, which shows that Joe Biden has dragged the U.S. down to 22nd, our lowest rank ever (we placed 4th in the first Index in 1995, and climbed back up from 18th to 12th under President Trump).  As we noted, among the Index's invaluable metrics is how it demonstrates the objective correlation between more economic freedom and higher citizen standards of living, which this graphic illustrates:

 …[more]

May 19, 2022 • 12:53 PM

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As Justice Kennedy Retires, Supreme Court Finally Ends Compulsory Public-Union Dues Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, June 28 2018
[T]he majority ruled that states and public-sector unions may no longer forcibly extract payment from unwilling employees. That violates the First Amendment, as the freedoms of association and speech mean that people must freely choose to support the behavior in which unions engage.

Groucho Marx famously observed, "I don't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member." 

For decades, millions of American public-sector workers who were forced to join unions have pleaded, "I don't want to belong to any club that would force me to become a member." 

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court finally granted relief to those millions of people.  No longer must they pay involuntary membership dues to powerful unions that serve as conduits for political contributions to leftist candidates and social causes. 

And with the Justice Anthony Kennedy's subsequent retirement announcement, the narrow 5-4 decision highlights once again the critical importance of securing conservative judges and justices in our precariously balanced Supreme Court and throughout the rest of the judicial branch. 

In Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Supreme Court addressed a lawsuit filed by Illinois state employee Mark Janus, who declined to join a union whose political activities and collective bargaining positions he opposed.  Under Illinois law, however, non-members were forced to pay what are known as "agency fees" to unions to cover whatever they decree germane to collective bargaining activities.  In Mr. Janus's case, that agency fee unsurprisingly amounted to approximately 80% of full union dues. 

Unfortunately, the 1977 Supreme Court decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that hasn't aged well in the ensuing four decades supported the union's position.  Consequently, the federal District Court and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Mr. Janus's lawsuit. 

In a welcome decision and astonishingly blunt terms, however, a majority overruled Abood and restored the First Amendment freedoms of speech and association to millions of public sector workers: 

The State's extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public sector employees violates the First Amendment.  Abood erred in concluding otherwise, and stare decisis cannot support it.  Abood is therefore overruled.  Abood's holding is inconsistent with standard First Amendment principles.  Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable raises serious First Amendment concerns.  That includes compelling a person to subsidize the speech of other private speakers. 

And in withering language, the majority eviscerated not only the illogic of Abood, but also the justifications offered for compulsory union membership: 

The Union claims that Abood is supported by the First Amendment's original meaning.  But neither founding-era evidence nor dictum supports the view that the First Amendment was originally understood to allow States to force public employees to subsidize a private third party.  If anything, the opposite is true...  Abood was poorly reasoned, and those arguing for retaining it have recast its reasoning, which further undermines its stare decisis effect...  Developments since Abood, both factual and legal, have "eroded" the decision's "underpinnings" and left it an outlier among the Court's First Amendment cases.  Abood relied on an assumption that "the principle of exclusive representation in the public sector is dependent on a union or agency shop," but experience has shown otherwise.  It was also decided when public-sector unionism was a relatively new phenomenon.  Today, however, public-sector union membership has surpassed that in the private sector, and that ascendency corresponds with a parallel increase in public spending.  Abood is also an anomaly in the Court's First Amendment jurisprudence, where exacting scrutiny, if not a more demanding standard, generally applies.  Overruling Abood will also end the oddity of allowing public employers to compel union support (which is not supported by any tradition) but not to compel party support. 

Accordingly, the majority ruled that states and public-sector unions may no longer forcibly extract payment from unwilling employees.  That violates the First Amendment, as the freedoms of association and speech mean that people must freely choose to support the behavior in which unions engage. 

In an age in which unions donate upwards of 90% of their political dollars toward leftist candidates and causes, the Supreme Court's decision will in turn prove dramatically consequential, as it already has in states like Wisconsin that instituted reform and witnessed immediate declines in union membership. 

As pivotal swing Justice Kennedy retires, it's important to remember that four justices remained willing to allow forcible union dues payment to perpetuate their political power. 

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When did Memorial Day officially become a federal holiday?
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"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio are pushing back against a Biden administration plan to give the World Health Organization authority to dictate global lockdowns and mandates, superseding U.S. and state laws.According to an amendment to a treaty likely to be approved this week by representatives of 194 countries, sovereign nations would be required to fund and participate in a…[more]
 
 
—Bethany Blankley, The Center Square
— Bethany Blankley, The Center Square
 
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Should any U.S. government agency have a function called the "Disinformation Governance Board" (See Homeland Security, Department of)?