The Supreme Court is hearing a labor case likely to significantly hit unions, Democrats

The Supreme Court is expected to gut unions
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, a case challenging the fees non-union public sector workers pay to unions to bargain on their behalf. If the five conservative justices side with the plaintiff, Illinois public employee Mark Janus, as expected, the projected loss in union funds and membership would significantly harm both the unions and the Democratic politicians they mostly support, according to political science research. Janus is being financed by a handful of well-coordinated conservative groups, notably the the Liberty Justice Center and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, both bankrolled by Illinois industrialist Richard Uihlein, and Wisconsin's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

A recent paper by Columbia's Alexander Hertel-Fernandez and two colleagues found that the Democratic share of the presidential vote dropped an average of 3.5 percentage points in states that enacted so-called right-to-work laws. That's greater than the margin of error in several states that supported Republicans, and "four key midwestern and midwestern-adjacent states went right-to-work during the five years before the 2016 election, and all four — Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia — went for Donald Trump," Politico notes. The ruling could harm Democratic candidates as soon as the 2018 midterms.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.