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Newswire – February 28, 2018

“The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”

— Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

SPOTLIGHT ON… DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA

The Steps of the Supreme Court

A VIEW FROM SCOTUS. Democracy was alive and LOUD on the steps of the Supreme Court this past Monday. Oral arguments in the long-anticipated case, Janus v. AFSCME, were delivered inside the High Court, and, as expected, the scene outside was, well, colorful and surreal. There were signs and slogans and yelling and an obscene amount of swearing from people claiming to support kids and workers.

Maybe it’s because a decision in favor of Mark Janus and for worker freedom could deal a powerful blow to public worker unions — chief among them, teachers’ unions (whose political spending surpasses all but one company, including the NRA!). But regardless of hard-fought issues, the optics were not befitting a nation as great as the US.

Union Thug Pin

WHO WAS THERE? Our man on the street interviews revealed many who did not know why they were there or what the issues were (including the woman with the union thug sign!). Asked who they were, sign holders refused to answer; some just said they were paid to hold a sign. They told supporters of worker freedom — like us — that we were tools of the Koch brothers. Scabs, in it for the profit. (Huh?) AFT’s Randi Weingarten arrived on the steps presumably from inside after the arguments and seemed to mope around the noise.

Mark Janus

During and after the rally, speaker after speaker implored the crowd to appreciate the importance of worker freedom, of great opportunities for teachers. Speakers included the plaintiff himself Mark Janus (pictured above); the lead plaintiff in Friedrichs v. California Teachers’ Association, Rebecca Friedrichs; EdChoice’s Leslie Hiner; Colin Sharkey and CER’s Jeanne Allen, who fired up the crowd with the following line: “Today in America we have freedom to choose just about everything in our lives — except if we want to join a union.”

WHAT’S AT STAKE? In her column for the Washington Examiner, Jeanne Allen summed up Janus as follows: “The significance of this case cannot be overstated; the decision could potentially restore the freedom of public employees to choose how they want their hard-earned paychecks spent and might put decisions about voluntary union membership back into the hands of the employees themselves.”

Lawyers from both sides gave statements and transcripts revealed that some interesting tête-à-tête was had with both sides, including this exchange between the AFSCME lawyer and Justice Kennedy:

This week’s Reality Check with Jeanne Allen featured Mark Mix of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Mix gets to the heart of the matter: “When you look at Mark and people like him in previous cases like Pam Harris, Diane Knox, Rebecca Friedrichs, these are ordinary people just trying to exercise their basic freedoms and do their job.”

SPEAKING OF CIVICS

We continue to grieve and despair in the wake of Parkland’s tragedy. Students who are speaking up, walking out and taking action are demonstrating their interest, through town halls, marches, social media campaigns and more. But in the spirit of true education, we want them to take their newfound popularity and accomplish their mission. Can they engage in the political process with the diligence and knowhow of how generations past have accomplished democratic social change? Will their efforts take a civil — even if justifiably heated approach — to democracy in action, or will they fall into divisiveness rather than righting the wrongs they seek? We wish them well, and offer them this important resource from the Constitution Center in the nation’s most historic city, Philadelphia, PA.

DID YOU KNOW?

How long the issue of public sector workers being required to pay the fair-share, or agency, fees if they decline to join the union has been going on? Since 1977, in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

TELL US YOUR STORY!

Families all over the country have school choice stories to tell. Send us yours!