INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 6, 2014)– In a 5-0 decision, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday 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. 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.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement:
“Today’s unanimous decision by the Indiana Supreme Court upholding Indiana’s right to work law is a victory for the freedom of every Hoosier in the workplace. By this ruling, our Court has reaffirmed Indiana law that no Hoosier may be compelled to join a union as a condition of their employment but every Hoosier is free to join a union if they choose.”