SALT LAKE CITY – February 24, 2009 – The U.S. Supreme Court today announced their decision in a case that upholds the constitutionality of a Utah’s Voluntary Contributions Act (VCA). Ruling 6-3 in Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Association, the high court found that states may prohibit union officials from using payroll deduction to divert public workers’ money into political action campaign coffers.
The ruling, consistent with an amicus brief submitted in the matter by Sutherland Institute and others in June 2008, overturns a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, and as a result upholds the validity of both Idaho’s and Utah’s respective Voluntary Contributions Acts. The Acts forbid public employers from using their payroll systems to collect political contributions. The Utah VCA, enacted by the state Legislature in 2001 was ruled unconstitutional in 2006 by a federal court judge in the matter of Utah Education Association v. Shurtleff, 2008.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts, stated, “Such a decision is reasonable in light of the State’s interest in avoiding the appearance that carrying out the public’s business is tainted by partisan political activity.”
Sutherland joined with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the Utah Taxpayers Association, and the National Federation of Independent Business – on behalf of Utah, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Texas – successfully arguing to reverse the Ninth Circuit Court, and hence the Tenth Circuit Court, in restoring the legality of state VCAs.
“The Supreme Court’s decision upholds our strong belief that unions do not have the right to use taxpayer money to promote their political agendas,” Paul T. Mero, President of Sutherland Institute said. “If an employee wants to contribute to a union’s political cause, that’s fine, but it is not wise public policy to use government resources to collect those contributions from employees. Clearly, this will play a major role in how some of the big unions play politics here in Utah.”