This week we highlight cert petitions that ask the Supreme Court to consider, among other things, First Amendment challenges to the use of membership fees by a union or bar association to engage in political speech, as well as the definition of a state “tax” under the federal Tax Injunction Act.
Two petitions ask the justices to consider the First Amendment implications of professional fees that are used for political and ideological speech. In Baisley v. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, an airline employee challenges a fee levied by an airline workers’ union even though he is not a union member. Under the federal Railway Labor Act, the employee’s exclusive bargaining representative is the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The employee alleges that the union contracted with his employer, United Airlines, to compel employees to pay fees in an amount equal to union dues. He further alleges that the fees are used to fund the union’s ideological and political activities unless a non-member affirmatively opts out of contributing to the union’s speech. The employee argues that this practice violates both the Railway Labor Act and the First Amendment. He relies on priordecisions holding that public-sector unions and employers must get an employee’s affirmative consent before extracting union dues or fees.
Next, in Crowe v. Oregon State Bar, the justices are asked to review the use of mandatory attorney dues by the Oregon State Bar to fund political and ideological speech. The challengers are Oregon