Knox v. Service Employees International Union, Local 1000

Knox v. Service Employees International Union , 567 U.S. 310 (2012), is a US constitutional law case. The United States Supreme Court held a 7-2 decision that Diana Knox and other non-members of the International Union Employees Service did not receive the required notice of a $ 12 million assessment. [1] In a tighter 5-4 ruling, the court further held the long-standing precedent, the First AmendmentThis is not a good idea to opt out of special fees was insufficient. Setting new precedent, the majority ruled that non-members will be given instructions giving them the option to opt into special fees. [2]


Under Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977) states may allow unions to charge nonmember workers “fair share” fees to prevent the free rider problem of nonmembers benefiting from a union’s collective bargaining gains. Annually Nonmembers must opt out of paying full union membership due partner after the union has Sends Hudson notice of what portion of the loadable is due to collective bargaining costs. [3] California is one of the states that allow for such an agency shop .

Arnold Schwarzenegger won a recall election contre California Governor Gray Davis in November 2003. Governor Schwarzenegger Then Proposed a broad tax reform agenda and has called Expired 2005 special election to pass Several ballot proposal and initiative constitutional amendments. [4] One of these, Proposition 75 would have required a nonmembers to affirmatively opt out of paying full union dues instead of needing to opt out. [5]

Service Employees International Local Union 1000 is the largest labor union in California, with bargaining rights for half of all California state employees. [6] In June 2005 SEIU feels its annual Hudson statement , giving nonmembers a fair share of dues. [7] Shortly after the opt out deadline expired SEIU mailed a notice to all workers announcing an emergency fee to build a “Political Fight Back Fund”. [8] The fee was then deducted from all workers’ subsequent paychecks until after the 2006 California gubernatorial election. [9] On November 1, 2005 filed a lawsuit lawsuitSacramento Federal District Court alleging SEIU ‘s emergency fee compelled plaintiffs speech in violation of the First Amendment . [10]

SEIU’s Political Fight Back Fund Expansion with $ 24 million campaigning against Schwarzenegger’s fiscal reform, with the California Teachers Association expending an additional $ 56 million and going forward. [11] [12] Schwarzenegger likewise spent nearly $ 8 million of his own fortune campaigning. [13] The tenor was highly divisive, with Schwarzenegger calling his opponents “stooges” and at one point Warren Beatty leading a bus full of public employees to follow the governor and shout down his events. [14]

Proposition 75 and all Governor Schwarzenegger’s other fiscal reform initiatives have been defeated by wide margins. [15] It had been the most expensive election in California history. [16] As the results came out in Sacramento, the president of the California Professional Firefighters union waived a “sweep, sweep, sweep”. [17]

In March 2008 District Court Judge Morrison England granted plaintiffs’ summary judgment against SEIU, finding it “hard to imagine” a clearer example of political purposes than when actually spending funds on an election campaign. The appeal of the Ninth Circuit panel has been reversed, with Chief Judge Clifford Wallace authoring a lengthy dissent. Plaintiffs petitioned the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari and the petition was granted. [18]

Plaintiffs then filed their opening brief. Instead of filing a reply brief, SEIU mailed a ten-page booklet to the 28,000 plaintiffs offering terms and conditions for a full refund, even including a $ 1 bill. [19] SEIU then moved to dismiss the case as moot.

Opinion of the Court

Writing for the Court, Alito’s First Justice finds the case is not moot. Alito disregards SEIU’s refund offer, finding such maneuvering “must be viewed with a critical eye”. [20] In addition , SEIU ‘s reclaimed it’ s unnecessarily complicated conditions and caveats that Alito feels it might still be improper. As such, Alito feels the need to proceed to the constitutional question.

Alito Begins by Correcting First Amendment of Compelling Funding with Compelled Speech and Compelled Association. He reads precedent to the introduction of compulsory regulation and the need for compensation. [21]

Questioning the necessity of compulsory union Alito writes “acceptance of the free-rider argument as a justification for compelling nonmembers to pay a portion of union labor peace. ” [22] He finds this anomaly is” a remarkable boon for unions “and that it only came about as a” historical accident “.

Alito is unwilling to extend the anomaly of compelling ordinary union. The SEIU Political Fight Back fee had, then, been forced out of the nonmembers, coercing them to fund a political campaign. [23] This particularly troubles Alito with regard to Proposition 75 because “the effect of the SEIU’s procedure is to force many nonmembers to subsidize a political effort designed to restrict their own rights”. [24]

Finally, it has been argued that the political lobby is not political because of a public employees union “lobbying the electorate” is part of contract negotiations. [25] Alito is not Persuaded, finding this definition of contract negotiations “would Effectively eviscerate the limitation of use of compulsory fees to supporting unions’ controversial political activities.” [26] The Court therefore holds unions can not impose extraordinary fees are nonmembers without first receiving nonmembers’ affirmative consents.

Competition in Judgment

Justice Sotomayor , joined by Justice Ginsburg , concur in the judgment only. Sotomayor agrees that the SEIU Political Fight Back fee was for political activities and that it could not be forced to pay for political activities. [27]Sotomayor can not agree, however, that the First Amendment allows such fees only after nonmembers opt in.

Because neither the question presented, briefed, or disputed the constitutionality of nonmembers to opt out of fees, Sotommayor does not feel the Court has the power to make affirmatively opting into a constitutional requirement. Because Sotomayor is unaccountable and unaccountable to others, Sotomayor feels the “majority of its unasked constitutional questions is not even clear.” [28]


Justice Breyer , joined by Justice Kagan , dissent. Breyer agrees with SEIU that “lobbying the electorate” is a contract negotiation. As a support, the San Francisco native cities has a California statute permitting unions to engage in political lobbying. [29] Agreeing with Sotomayor that the majority answered a question of a constitutional question, Breyer believes that the majority is in favor of being “directly contrary to precedent.” the ongoing, intense political debate “regarding Right to Work laws. [30]


The editors of the New York Times disliked the outcome, decrying that “the legal approach is indistinguishable from politics.” [31] Erwin Chemerinsky called Knox the term’s “biggest sleeper case”. [32] Chermerinsky would write that Knox should be read to increase political power. [33] Michael Dorf disliked Alito’s Justice “broadly anti-union rhetoric”. [34] Students on the Harvard Law Review called the box “undoubtedly represents a watershed moment in the field of union finance” and welcomed “a restraint on government power to the marketplace of ideas”. [35]

The short Would soon extend First Amendment protection contre unions in Harris v. Quinn (2014). California Proposition 32 again failed to limit the payroll deductions in the 2012 general election.


  1. Jump up^ “The State Worker: US Supreme Court rules against SEIU Local 1000 in fee box” . Retrieved 10 November 2014 .
  2. Jump up^ “Union Supreme Court Ruling, Knox v. SEIU, Could Cut Back Labor’s Political Speech” . Retrieved 10 November 2014 .
  3. Jump up^ Chicago School Teachers Union v. Hudson, 475 US 292 (1986)
  4. Jump up^ Richard Hasen, Assessing California’s Hybrid Democracy, 97 Cal. L. Rev. 1501 (2009).
  5. Jump up^
  6. Jump up^
  7. Jump up^ Knox v. CALIFORNIA STATE EMPLOYEES ASS’N, 628 F.3d 1115 (9th Cir 2010).
  8. Jump up^ Knox v. CALIFORNIA STATE EMPLOYEES ASS’N, 628 F.3d 1115 (9th Cir 2010).
  9. Jump up^ Knox v. CALIFORNIA STATE EMPLOYEES ASS’N, 628 F.3d 1115 (9th Cir 2010).
  10. Jump up^ Knox v. CALIFORNIA STATE EMPLOYEES ASS’N, 628 F.3d 1115 (9th Cir 2010).
  11. Jump up^
  12. Jump up^ Malanga, Steven. “The State Beholden State Public Sector Union California . ” City Journal (Spring 2010). Manhattan Institute for Policy Research . Retrieved 14 April 2015 .
  13. Jump up^
  14. Jump up^ Marinucci, Carla (6 November 2005). “Beatty crashes governor’s party” . San Francisco Chronicle . Retrieved 14 April 2015 .
  15. Jump up^ Richard Hasen, Assessing California’s Hybrid Democracy, 97 Cal. L. Rev. 1501 (2009).
  16. Jump up^ Thomas, Bryan (November 10, 2005). “A Weary State is Left Facing Hefty Price Tag” . The Daily Californian . Archived from the original on January 18, 2016 . Retrieved April 14, 2015 .
  17. Jump up^ Chronicle Political Writers (9 November 2005). “Californians say no to Schwarzenegger” . San Francisco Chronicle . Retrieved 14 April 2015 .
  18. Jump up^ Ross Runkel, When do we get to go to “Hudson notice” go out ?, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 5, 2012, 10:01 AM)
  19. Jump up^ Lyle Denniston, Granted case challenged as moot, SCOTUSblog (Oct. 25, 2011, 5:16 PM)
  20. Jump up^ Knox v. Service Employees Intern. Union, 132 S. Ct. 2277 and 2287, 567 US, 183 L. Ed. 2d 281 (2012).
  21. Jump up^ 132 S. Ct. 2289.
  22. Jump up^ 132 S. Ct. 2290 citingClyde Summers, Book Review, Sheldon Leader, Freedom of Association: A Study in Labor Law and Political Theory, 16 Comparative Labor LJ 262, 268 (1995).
  23. Jump up^ 132 S. Ct. 2293.
  24. Jump up^ 132 S. Ct. 2292.
  25. Jump up^ 132 S. Ct. 2294.
  26. Jump up^ 132 S. Ct. 2295.
  27. Jump up^ 132 S. Ct. 2297.
  28. Jump up^ 132 S. Ct. 2299.
  29. Jump up^ 132 S. Ct. 2304 citing Cal. Govt.Code Ann. Dry. 3515.8 (West 2010).
  30. Jump up^ 132 S. Ct. 2306.
  31. Jump up^ Editorial, The Anti-Union Short Roberts, NY TIMES, June 23, 2012, at A18
  32. Jump up^ Young, W. James. “Casting an Overdue Skeptical Eye: Knox v. SEIU.”Cato Sup. Ct. Rev. (2011): 333citingLeigh Jones, Blockbuster Supreme Court Term Included Some Sleeper Cases, National Law Journal, July 18, 2012
  33. Jump up^ Fisk and Chemerinsky, Political Speech Rights After Knox v. SEIU, 98 Cornell L. Rev. 1023 (2012).
  34. Jump up^
  35. Jump up^ Leading Cases , 126 Harv. L. Rev. 186 (2012).

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