The Supreme Court handed down neither its Obamacare ruling, nor its Arizona immigration law decision today, so we'll have to wait until at least Monday (and possibly later) for those. But since all eyes were on the High Court this morning, one verdict of note was rendered: In the case of Knox v. SEIU, the Court overturned the hard-Left Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals -- a regular occurrence these days -- and ruled against the SEIU. The decision was a relatively lopsided 7-2 split: Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg sided with Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia and Kennedy, though the two left-leaning ladies wrote a separate concurrence. Justices Breyer and Kagan dissented. The very basics:
The Supreme Court says a union must give nonmembers an immediate chance to object to unexpected fee increases that all workers are required to pay in closed-shop situations. The court on Thursday ruled for Dianne Knox and other nonmembers of the Service Employees International Union's Local 1000, who wanted to object and opt out of a $12 million special assessment the union required from its California public sector members. Knox and others said the union did not give them a legally required notice that the increase was coming. The union, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said the annual notice that the union gives was sufficient. The high court disagreed in a 7-2 judgment written by Justice Samuel Alito.
UPDATE III (Kate Hicks) - The Court also released its ruling on FCC v. Fox Television Stations this morning, which may explaint he uptick in "f-words" that have been jokingly bandied about on Twitter this morning. The case pertains to indecency law, and whether the Federal Communications Commission correctly applied regulations to two different television networks, ABC and Fox, for perceived violations of indecency law. The Court ruled unanimously for Fox, 8-0 (Sotomayor recused herself), but many seem to have misread it as the Court deciding that fleeting profanity is protected speech. Not so -- or at least, not yet. The Court only ruled against the FCC on Fifth Amendment grounds, meaning that it violated due process, and didn't give adequate warning to the networks that they were in violation of indecency standards. Thus, the networks don't have to pay fines; however, the FCC is free to change its indecency policy as it deems necessary. From the opinion:
In the challenged orders now under review the Commission applied the new principle promulgated in the Golden Globes Order and determined fleeting expletives and a brief moment of indecency were actionably indecent. This regulatory history, however, makes it apparent that the Commission policy in place at the time of the broadcasts gave no notice to Fox or ABC that a fleeting expletive or a brief shot of nudity could be action ably indecent; yet Fox and ABC were found to be in violation. The Commission’s lack of notice to Fox and ABC that its interpretation had changed so the fleeting moments of indecency contained in their broadcasts were a violation of §1464 as interpreted and enforced by the agency “fail[ed] to provide a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice of what is prohibited.” Williams, supra, at 304.
First Amendment protections have not been altered in any way. The Court came to three conclusions in its opinion, which reiterate that this case was decided on the basis of the due process clause, and what's more, that the FCC still has the right to regulate "fleeting" indecent language at this time:
First, because the Court resolves these cases on fair notice grounds under the Due Process Clause, it need not address the First Amendment implications of the Commission’s indecency policy. [Second] Here, the Court rules that Fox and ABC lacked notice at the time of their broadcasts that the material they were broadcasting could be found actionably indecent under then-existing policies. Given this disposition, it is unnecessary for the Court to address the constitutionality of the current indecency policy as expressed in the Golden Globes Order and subsequent adjudications. The Court adheres to its normal practice of declining to decide cases not before it. Third, this opinion leaves the Commission free to modify its current indecency policy in light of its determination of the public interest and applicable legal requirements. And it leaves the courts free to review the current policy or anymodified policy in light of its content and application.
The case was remanded, meaning sent back to the lower court for futher review of the First Amendment implications. We'll see this one again on those grounds at the High Court in a future term.
UPDATE IV - In a pretty useless poll, Supreme Court "insiders" predict the supremes will strike down the individual mandate next week. Sure, it's pure educated guess work with zero predictive value, but it's also grist for the mill as we all breathlessly watch and wait.