The Indiana Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a challenge to the state's right to work law. The ruling means Indiana can continue to enforce the legislation passed in 2012. A second appeal on the constitutionality of the law still awaits the state's highest court. November 6, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In a 5-0 decision, the Indiana Supreme Court today ruled that Indiana's right to work law prohibiting involuntary union dues does not violate the Indiana Constitution.
The Supreme Court decided the State of Indiana's appeal of a Lake County court's ruling last year that had struck down the right to work law the Legislature passed in 2012. In a six-page opinion authored by Justice Brent Dickson, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the State's position that the statute is constitutional and it overturned the lower court's ruling, meaning the State can continue to enforce the right to work law. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's Office defended the statute in court as was its duty.
“The ruling by our Supreme Court confirmed that the people's elected representatives in the Legislature were within their legal authority to craft an economic policy prohibiting involuntary union dues and this policy does not violate the Indiana Constitution. Though Hoosiers have differences of opinion on this issue we all should show respect for the Court and the legal process by which laws are tested,” Zoeller said.
The State had appealed two separate Lake County court rulings on the right to work law to the state's highest court, and the Supreme Court decided the first one today, Zoeller et al. v. Sweeney et al. The Court has not yet heard argument on the State's separate appeal of the second legal challenge, in the United Steel case, and the lower court’s ruling there remains under a stay order.
The same Sweeney plaintiffs previously had challenged the right to work law in federal court, but both the U.S. District Court and the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found the state law did not violate federal law or the federal constitution. The plaintiffs then filed a challenge in Lake County, prevailed there, and the State appealed. On September 4, with new Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush presiding over oral argument for the first time, the Indiana Supreme Court heard the State’s appeal in the Sweeney case. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher of the Attorney General’s Office argued the statute is constitutional.
As lawyer for the state government, the Attorney General’s Office defends state statutes the Legislature has passed from legal challenges plaintiffs’ lawyers file. Defense of the right to work statute has been through the AG’s Office’s regular budget approved by the Legislature in advance, with no outside counsel used.
Source: The Office of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller