Federal Spotlight: Supreme Court Janus Ruling and Justice Kennedy to Retire

June 28, 2018

The last two weeks have been monumental for the U.S. Supreme Court. Several 5-4 split decisions have come down, including Wayfair last week and Janus yesterday. The Janus v. AFSCME 5-4 decision states public employees cannot be forced to pay fees for collective bargaining. ABI has been a long-time proponent of Iowa’s Right to Work law and was a strong defender of the law in the last decade at the state level. The decision of the Supreme Court yesterday will allow all public sector employees to get or keep a job without having to pay dues or fees to an organization they may not support.

In other U.S. Supreme Court news, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was nominated by President Reagan to serve, will retire at the end of July. Kennedy, who is 81, has often served as the swing vote on the court and was the deciding factor in several monumental cases. President Trump is expected to begin the search for his replacement immediately. Republicans currently control the U.S. Senate 51-49, and because the minority party cannot filibuster nominations, a simple majority is all that is needed to confirm this lifetime appointment. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already indicated the Senate will confirm Trump’s nominee this fall. You can expect an extremely bitter fight between the GOP and Democrats, as many observers believe that one more Trump-appointed justice would solidify a majority conservative bloc on the court for at least a generation. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) serves as Senate Judiciary Chair and will have a key role in the nomination process. This will be President Trump’s second SCOTUS appointment, as the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch last year to fill the vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia.