Supreme Court Justice takes stance on labor law, sends signals

The U.S. Supreme Court has altered labor law and how it is interpreted throughout the years. Some are now calling into question the stances certain Justices have taken and how they have influenced future cases.

Jenny Hunter, a labor lawyer, writer and consultant joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss how one U.S. Supreme Court Justice has influenced labor law throughout the years.

She also discussed how President Biden can counter the GOP strategy of stacking courts with conservative-minded judges.

Getting involved with labor law

Hunter said she stumbled into labor law. She was a law student at Yale and was unsure what type of law she wanted to pursue. When a group of workers on campus decided to strike, Hunter gathered her fellow law students and encouraged them not to cross the picket line.

She then gained an affinity for the labor movement, eventually taking a job with the Service Employees International Union.

Justice Alito’s attacks on labor laws

Hunter wrote an article examining Justice Samuel Alito’s seemingly anti-labor approach to interpretation of the law and how it has continued through the years.

In her article, she says Alito “coached” anti-union attorneys through his previous opinions. Within these rulings Alito would leave a roadmap for anti-union attorneys to shape future cases. He was critical of rulings in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and other historical labor cases.

As anti-labor attorneys and groups picked up on this, they began using unconventional strategies. Hunter said lawyers began asking lower courts to quickly rule against them so they could make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Finding ways for organized labor to make up ground

Hunter said President Biden can help the organized labor community make up lost ground in decisions such as Janus v. AFSCME, which was the culmination of Alito’s anti-union rulings.

She said it is vital that Biden nominate labor lawyers to federal judgeships. The Trump administration and Republican controlled Congress heavily focused their efforts on nominating and confirming judges. Hunter encourages President Biden to fill any position he can with young, labor-friendly judges.


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