The 7-2 majority -- which included a concurrence by liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- agreed that the union had acted illegally. But the sharpest cut comes from the court's narrower 5-4 majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito. It held that for unions to deduct special political contributions from nonmembers' paychecks -- as occurred in this case -- those workers must explicitly opt in, as opposed to having to opt out. Otherwise, as in this case, the union will at best receive a free loan for political activity at nonunion employees' expense. At worst, employees burdened with the normal concerns of life may well forget to claim their full rights, and the unions' political activities will thrive by default at their expense.
"Public-sector unions have the right under the First Amendment to express their views on political and social issues without government interference," Alito wrote. "But employees who choose not to join a union have the same rights." It should come as little surprise that nonunion workers do not want to contribute to union political initiatives, especially ones that attack nonunion workers' rights.