* The Liberty Justice Center is, of course, closely affiliated with the Illinois Policy Institute. The Center’s President is Patrick Hughes, who works closely with Dan Proft at the Illinois Opportunity Project. The Institute is run by John Tillman. All those folks have been openly warring with Gov. Bruce Rauner and Proft is backing Jeanne Ives’s campaign against Rauner.
Liberty Justice Center president issues letter to Illinois Gov. Rauner regarding Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court case
CHICAGO (Feb. 19, 2018) – The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the landmark labor case Janus v. AFSCME on Feb. 26. This is the most important case for workers’ rights in a generation. It seeks to end the decades-old practice of requiring government workers to pay money to a union as a condition of employment. The case has implications for government workers in Illinois, as well as in 21 other states.
Liberty Justice Center President Patrick Hughes has sent the following letter to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner regarding his public comments about the case:
Dear Gov. Rauner:
As you know, the Liberty Justice Center is representing an Illinois state worker in the Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME. I am writing to request that you immediately stop misrepresenting the case and your role in it in public appearances and in the media.
This is the most important case for workers’ rights in a generation. It seeks to end the decades-old practice of requiring government workers to pay money to a union as a condition of employment. This requirement is coercive and un-American, yet it has been in place for decades.
In Illinois and 21 other states, working in public service means paying money to a government union. More than 5 million government workers have no choice and no voice in the matter. But all of this could change if the Liberty Justice Center and our co-counsel from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation are successful.
The stakes in this case are high, and that is why the manner in which you are discussing the case is so concerning.
You have made the Janus case a centerpiece of your re-election campaign. In numerous interviews, you are falsely claiming involvement in the case and making predictions about its success – even though the justices of the Supreme Court have yet to hear oral arguments. You appear to have an immense misunderstanding of what’s really at stake in this case and what the implications would be. But perhaps most importantly, by touting this case in campaign-related events and interviews, you have recklessly politicized what’s at issue in Janus.
Understand that Janus is not about right versus left, Democrats versus Republicans, or union jobs being better or worse than non-union jobs. Janus is about restoring government workers’ right to decide for themselves whether to support a union at their workplace. And it is about more than Illinois. It is deeply personal to millions of American workers in almost two dozen states.
Here are examples of public comments that have been problematic.
In a recent campaign appearance before the Chicago Tribune editorial board, you said: “It’s in the courts, and we’re gonna win … we have a very high probability of winning the AFSCME lawsuit. From all indications, I believe it’s very likely.”
This isn’t the first time you have spoken about the case in this manner. In an interview with the Hoover Institution in 2017, you stated: “We’re in Federal Court. We are heading with that lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court this September. Nothing to do with any of the budget. Nothing to do with any of the reform agenda in the legislature. We are going to be in front of the Supreme Court, and there is more than a 90% odds that we win that case.”
The problem: You are not a party in the case or participating in it in any way. Liberty Justice Center, as a 501(c)(3) organization, cannot and does not get involved in campaigns. Falsely claiming involvement in our activities, and linking the case to your reelection, could lead to false assumptions that our organization is involved in your reelection, which it is not.
The plaintiff in this case has been represented throughout the litigation by my organization, the Liberty Justice Center, and our partners at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The federal district court dismissed you from the case in 2015, and since then you have played no role in it.
Ironically, there was an official role for you to play in the lawsuit. Elected officials from Michigan, Alabama, Indiana, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and other states all submitted amicus briefs in support of the lawsuit. You could have filed an amicus brief or joined theirs, but you did not.
Unfortunately, Janus is not the only critically important case in which you are misrepresenting your role. You also have falsely claimed to be involved in our case defending the Village of Lincolnshire’s right-to-work ordinance. Speaking of that case in your Hoover Institution interview, you said, “I’m advocating with them and helping them with that. We are now in Federal Court. We’re heading to the Supreme Court in 2018.”
But you have never had anything to do with that case, either. When the Village of Lincolnshire enacted its ordinance and unions sued to challenge it, the Liberty Justice Center stepped forward to defend the village free of charge. Neither you nor anyone in your office has ever assisted us in the case.
Claiming involvement in a case and then speaking unsolicited on behalf of those actually charged with winning the case is irresponsible and grossly misleading. It’s also inappropriate to make predictions about a case’s likelihood of success.
The real hero in the Janus case is Mark Janus, who has been willing to take his case to the highest court in the land, face public scrutiny and put his livelihood on the line.
Yes, you initiated the Janus case by issuing an executive order in 2015. But that’s where your involvement ended. Saying otherwise and implying continued involvement is dishonest and harmful to the work of those trying to bring more worker freedom to Illinois and the country.
President, Liberty Justice Center
Emphasis added for obvious reasons.
The Circular Firing Squad is operating at full roar these days, campers. I’ll open comments tomorrow.
The case now called Janus v. AFSCME began on February 9, 2015. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order prohibiting state agencies from requiring nonmember state employees to pay union fees, and directed that instead any such fees deducted be put in escrow pending the resolution of litigation.
On the same day, Rauner filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the collection of forced fees from state employees, asking for a declaratory judgment that the forced fee provisions violate the First Amendment and that his executive order was valid.
On March 23, 2015, staff attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed a motion for Mark Janus to intervene in the case. Janus’s complaint requested not only a declaratory judgment but also an injunction and damages from the unions for the compelled fees.
Although the court then ruled that Rauner did not have standing necessary to pursue his lawsuit, the challenge continued because the judge granted Janus’ motion to intervene. The case was renamed Janus v. AFSCME. On July 2, 2015, the Illinois Attorney General asked the district court to stay the case pending the Supreme Court’s decision in a case with similar constitutional issues at stake, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The district court granted a stay on July 8, 2015.