Perspective | Appointments to the Court Matter

Justices’ rulings impact the daily lives of Americans

Since the president’s appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, several key issues have been addressed on their constitutionality. The conservative view of the Constitution was articulated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia when he said, “It means today, not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.” This view of the Constitution will continue to prevail if the president’s appointment to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy is confirmed. Some recent court decisions provide dramatic proof that appointments to the Supreme Court are significant in the daily lives of Americans.

In July, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in striking down an Illinois law that allowed the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union to deduct union fees from employees who refused to join. This decision smashed such laws in 22 states that compel nonmembers to support workplace unions. This Supreme Court decision means firefighters, teachers and other government workers will no longer be forced to fork over money to unions when they choose not to join. In this case, Justice Sam Alito wrote for the majority by quoting Thomas Jefferson: “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

In this case, the ruling specified “that union fees cannot be extracted from a nonmember unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.” For nonunion employees and employees who “opt out,” this means more money in their paycheck and less money for unions to support lavish contracts and work rules that jack up the cost of public services. Diminished union political clout and increased power for workers will result from this landmark decision. No longer will new hires in New Jersey, for instance, be required to sit through mandatory 30-minute lectures on the benefits of union membership while employers are barred from presenting the other side.

Justice Neil Gorsuch provided a key vote in the court’s decision. Yes, who serves on the Supreme Court really matters in everyday American life. If the president’s nomination to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy has the credentials of Justice Gorsuch, America can expect more of this kind of respect for the Constitution.

Retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy has been regarded as a “swing vote” that was independent. While Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s replacement nominee to the court, may be from the same mold, it is known that he is a strict “constitutionalist,” meaning he believes the Constitution speaks for itself. Kavanaugh’s beliefs clearly contradict the late one-time Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes who famously opined that the Constitution is what the judges say it is.

For too long, government employee unions have confiscated dues money from those employees who do not choose to join their unions. Flush with that ill-gotten income, the unions have been able to control election outcomes with generous donations and manpower to get out the vote for their chosen candidates. When all is said and done, the only thing government unions have to bargain with are taxes from the American people.

The late President Franklin Roosevelt strongly opposed the unionization of government workers. Abraham Lincoln said, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”

If the president’s nominee Kavanaugh for Supreme Court justice is someone with credentials like his first appointment, Neil Gorsuch, America will be governed by our Constitution. Those members of the highest court in the land truly impact daily life in America. Who they are and what they believe about the Constitution does matter.

Perspective comments are the opinion of the writer and not the position of The Lane Report.


Pat Freibert is a former Kentucky state representative from Lexington. She can be reached at [email protected]

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