Prof. Starger on stare decisis in union case before high court

Professor Colin Starger is quoted at length in a Jan. 6 story in The National Law Journal’s Supreme Court Brief, “Will Justices Stand by Decades-Old Precedent in Union Challenge?” (You will need a subscription to read the full story.)

The article by Marcia Coyle, J.D. ’86, the magazine’s chief Washington correspondent, begins:

As U.S. Supreme Court nominees, the Roberts Court justices, like their predecessors, paid homage to stare decisis: standing by prior decisions. But what will that mean when they re-examine a nearly 40-year-old precedent in the biggest union case in decades?

The justices on Jan. 11 will hear arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a direct attack on the high court’s unanimous decision in 1977 in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

The two sides in Friedrichs battle over whether the high court should continue to stand by Abood. The court in that case upheld under the First and Fourteenth amendments a public-employee union-shop arrangement in which Michigan required objecting nonunion members to pay fees necessary for the union, which represented all employees, to carry out its bargaining activities.

“Neither side is going to feel particularly bound by this ‘precedent about precedent,’ but they’ll use it to set up their ultimate justification,” said Colin Starger of the University of Baltimore School of Law, who has examined and written about stare decisis. “Since the Roberts Court, it’s pretty fair to say it’s the conservative side of the court more aggressively overruling prior precedents. But historically, you can’t say it’s only the conservatives.”

Learn more about Professor Starger.

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