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<em>Citizens United</em> May Prohibit Union Busting by States

With the ruling of the Supreme Court in Citizens United vs. the FEC, the guarantee of free speech is now extended to corporations, unions and any other groups, foreign or domestic in citizenship or allegiance.
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The right to politically organize is in every way the right to freely assemble and the right to free speech guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. The absolute intent of the 1st Amendment is political -- to prevent suppression of political speech. With the ruling of the Supreme Court in Citizens United vs. the FEC, 1st Amendment guaranteed free speech is now extended to corporations, unions and any other groups, foreign or domestic in citizenship or allegiance. Prior to Citizens United, the concept of a corporate personhood extended only to rights under the 14th Amendment such as Due Process and Equal Protection under the law, although that limit has been tested regularly as corporate money has sought a path into influencing American politics.

Over the years, corporations had won, through the Judiciary, the right to spend in influence of issue politics. It wasn't until Citizens United that they won recognition by the Supreme Court as citizens fully worthy of the 1st Amendment right of advocating for or against individual candidates. It was a radical departure from precedent and the effects of it will radically change both our law and our politics. To date, most of the focus on the effects of that decision have been on the political ramifications. But there's a Pandora's box of issues in law that have not yet reverberated from this decision.

The National Conference of State Legislatures supports the conclusion that Citizens United has implications for existing state law pertaining to both corporate and union free speech. The consequences to future law bears examination as well.

Under 14th Amendment rights of corporations and unions, government has been Constitutionally allowed to suppress non issue political speech. The estimation of the speech rights of both corporations and unions being limited to, essentially, advertising to promote their products. But because the Supreme Court just ruled that money is Constitutionally identical to speech and organizations are equal in 1st Amendment rights to individual citizens, government can no longer suppress political speech in any way from any single source or combine of special interests.

It's permitted, if unsavory, for citizens to deny speech to other citizens. Your mommy, corporations, media or the Chamber of Commerce can censor or subvert or fire or intimidate any person if it's done within existing civil and criminal law. But, under the 1st Amendment, it is strictly prohibited for the U.S. government or any State of the Union to constrain any ostensibly responsible speech by any means including but not limited to persecutions such as involuntary confinement and/or fines. Among the means of suppressing speech, depriving income or curtailment of recognized rights count as prohibited, they being the effective equivalent of some form of jail.

Hypothesize a corporation's new 1st Amendment rights being subdued by withholding of government business or shutting down that corporation because of their political speech. It's Constitutionally acceptable to exact functional contract requirements on corporations or individuals for the privilege of doing business with the government, but is not acceptable to enact law that will deny business to a corporation or individual on the basis of political differences. It's equally prohibited to pass a law limiting a business' income or activity for purposes of limiting their speech.

Collective bargaining is a recognized right under federal law, and the extent to which the suspending of that right quiets the political voice and power of a union it is a suppression of the free speech of union members. Unions have a product and their business, and now heretofore their 1st Amendment rights, depends on their ability to deliver it. Denial of collective bargaining would tend to suppresses speech of a union just as denial of a business license to a corporation would tend to suppress the speech of that corporation. Under the new 1st Amendment standards of free speech established by the Citizens United ruling, conditions on a labor contract that inhibit free political speech of that union are as protected from political duress as is a contract between government and a corporation.

Unions, freshly promoted to citizenship along with corporations in Citizens United, now enjoy protections from any government sanction that would inhibit their speech or even viability as an organization . It's important to understand that 14th Amendment rights under which both corporations and unions were permitted rights to influence issue politics is different from the 1st Amendment right to influence ideological politics and campaigns for political office.

It's somewhat speculative in an evidentiary sense that Wisconsin's governor and legislature are setting about suppressing the speech of their employee unions with draconian legislation to curtail the power of these unions to represent their members. To deprive the unions that represent their public employees of income through loses in dues and through decimating the membership by destroying the value of the benefit of collective bargaining, Wisconsin's politicians sorely curtail the unions ability to speak politically for their members. That this seems to be the objective in Wisconsin, and in a dozen other newly Republican led states, is clear and could not be coincidence.

For States or the Federal government to deprive unions of the right to bargain is now tantamount to a government assault on their political speech in representing the collective interests of their members no less than it would be a suppression of speech if a corporation were deprived of its ability to do business.

So, union busting, right now, is suppression of free speech. Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts have ruled. So GOP Governors, your union busting laws may not pass Constitutional muster unless Citizens United is overturned.

Have a nice day.