LABOR AND THE SUPREME COURT….Nathan Newman, still annoyed, wishes liberal blogs would spend a smidgen less time on handgun and death penalty cases decided by the Supreme Court, and a smidgen more time on labor and business cases:
As I noted last week, state regulations of business lost out in nearly every single case decided [this term], and even the “liberal” Justices joined many if not most of the major decisions. Which reflects modern elite liberalism too well that you can distinguish liberals from conservatives on a death penalty case, but when corporations are trashing workers rights, suddenly the differences can get a little fuzzy.
And what really annoys me is that in the major union decision of the term, Chamber of Commerce v. Brown, one of the most anti-union results in decades, there was essentially zero commentary across the blogs….I can almost guarantee that if in a side comment Obama had said something nice about Chamber of Commerce v. Brown, most of the blogs wouldn’t have noticed since they wouldn’t know what it was.
Totally guilty here. This was the first I’d ever heard of this case. So I read up on it, and the nickel version is this: California passed a law saying that companies that receive state funds can’t use those state funds to “assist, promote, or deter” union organizing campaigns. They can use their own money, but they can’t use any of California’s money. The 9th Circuit upheld the law, but last month the Supreme Court struck it down.
Unfortunately, there’s a big problem here even for bloggers like me who mouth off on all sorts of issues that we don’t have a lot of expertise on: I have no idea whether this decision was correct. Sure, I’m generally pro-union, and the California law was also pro-union since it made it harder for companies to run union-busting campaigns. But just because I’m pro-union doesn’t mean the Supremes got the law wrong here. In the end, their decision was based on some fairly specialized NLRA statutory law, and I can’t even pretend to know anything about this. Basically, they decided that the NLRA overrode state law since, in practice, the regulatory effect of the California law put a big enough burden on corporations that it effectively kept them from speaking out on union issues at all. And the NLRA clearly states that corporations are allowed to speak out on union issues.
So….I don’t know. But I will say one thing: this case goes to show, once again, that it’s the other branches of government we should really be worried about when it comes to stuff like this. NLRA is statutory law, not part of the constitution, and Congress can modify it any time it likes. The same goes for most business/labor issues decided by the court, which are overwhelmingly based on interpretations of statutory law. The Supreme Court only gets to continually narrow the law if Congress sits by and lets them, and if we elect a better Congress and a better president they can override decisions like this and the Supremes don’t get a vote. So let’s do that, OK?