That question, as raised in today’s Wall Street Journal by Stephen Moore, highlights the prime importance of a major First Amendment case on the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming docket: Washington v Washington Education Association, & Davenport et al v Washington Education Association.
At issue is whether workers have the right to effectively declare themselves conscientious objectors to the unions’ multimillion-dollar political war games. “All we are saying is that no one has the right to take our money and spend it on causes we don’t believe in,” insists Cindy Omlin, a recently retired speech teacher in Spokane. “If you want my money, ask for it, like private charities, political candidates and businesses do.” Ms. Omlin was one of 250 teachers who successfully sued the WEA in 2002 to get half their dues refunded after a Washington superior court found the union guilty of “intentional violations” of the paycheck protection law.
Why should any organization be able to take funds from someone without their consent to spend on political action? As Thomas Jefferson once famously said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”
In one of the breathless judicial acts of stretching truth and logic, the Washington Supreme Court ruled earlier in 2006 that a 1992 state law requiring unions to get teacher approval before spending their money on campaigns proved too great of a burden for the union’s rights of free speech. Forget individual rights.
In Colorado, teachers union bosses sued the Secretary of State to deprive their members of the right to be asked first before their dues money could be transferred to committees that finance political campaigns. A very likely favorable ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, overturning the Washington Supreme Court, could have favorable ramifications in our state as well.