Supreme Court deadlocks on union fees case brought by CA educators including Sanger teacher

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Supreme Court has issued a deadlocked decision on a case brought by several California educators, including a Sanger High School math teacher. At issue- whether teachers who are not members of a union should be forced to pay union fees. The decision impacts teachers nationwide.

The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court. Orange County's Rebecca Friedrich challenged the California Teachers Association arguing she shouldn't be required to pay union fees when she's not even a member. Two other teachers are also named in the suit, including Sanger High's Harlan Elrich, a math teacher.

ABC30 Legal analyst Tony Capozzi says, "There's a reason why Supreme Courts have an odd number of people - it's because of tied votes like this."

Tuesday the Supreme Court was deadlocked - a 4-4 tie - on the outcome of the case, meaning the previous ruling in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stands, siding with the California Teachers Association. Local Fresno Teachers Association officials are thrilled.

Tish Rice, Fresno Teachers Association, "We're really excited just that we see the value obviously that unions have in terms of public education that I know FTA has worked really hard to have a positive impact with Fresno Unified in making sure our students are getting the support they need and our educators have the tools and resources at their school sites to be effective for teachers."

The decision, though, still could mean a chance for Friedrich and Elrich to get another day in the Supreme Court. The Center for Individual Rights plans on filing a petition to re-hear the case since the court ruled after Justice Antonin Scalia's death. During the hearings, when Scalia was still alive, the conservative judge seemed to side against the unions. The plaintiffs seem to believe the vote would have instead been 5-4 in their favor if he was still alive for today's ruling.

Capozzi says, Iit will change how the case goes. I'm sure one way or another it'll be 5-4. I'm sure of that. Which way, we don't know."

He adds, the 2016 Presidential election will play a huge role in this case and teachers nationwide.

Capozzi says, "This case will have a major impact in our educational system and how teachers are treated throughout their employment."

Harlan Elrich declined to do an interview on today's ruling. He was in Washington, DC for the decision.

Capozzi says it is very unusual for a local person's case to make it all the way to the Supreme Court.
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