SCOTUS grants cert: Constitutionality of compelled payments to labor union

Can home-care providers be compelled to make payments to a union that represents their interests before state agencies? The US Supreme Court granted certiorari today in Harris v. Quinn. [Briefs available at SCOTUSblog]

The State of Illinois requires that individuals who provide in-home care to Medicaid recipients accept and support an exclusive representative (an SEIU local union) to petition the State over its reimbursement rates for that care. SEIU and the state have a collective bargaining agreement that requires "fair share" payments. Harris and others claim that compelling them to associate for purposes of petitioning government about a public-aid program infringes on their right to free expressive association guaranteed by the 1st amendment. The 7th Circuit held that this arrangement is OK constitutionally. Harris v. Quinn (7th Cir 09/01/2011).

The issues:

  1. May a State, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, compel personal care providers to accept and financially support a private organization as their exclusive representative to petition the State for greater reimbursements from its Medicaid programs?
  2. Did the lower court err in holding that the claims of providers in the Home Based Support Services Program are not ripe for judicial review?

I expect the Court to find this arrangement unconstitutional -- by a close vote.

[For all employment cases pending at the Supreme Court, see Supreme Court Watch.]