US Catholic Bishops: No to Janus, No to “Right-to-Work”

On January 19, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops weighed in with a powerful amicus brief defending the right of workers to organize and opposing Janus and “right-to-work.”

The Catholic bishops of the United States have long and consistently supported the right of workers to organize for purposes of collective bargaining. Because this right is substantially weakened by so-called “right-to-work” laws, many bishops — in their dioceses, through their state conferences, and through their national conference — have opposed or cast doubt on such laws, and no US Bishop has expressed support for them.

Petitioner invites this Court to constitutionalize the “right-to-work” position—instantly, without exception, for all fifty states, almost irreversibly—in the public sector. Petitioner’s proposed rationale for this dramatic move appears designed to lay the foundation for a still more dramatic one: constitutionalizing, in a subsequent case, the “right-to-work” rule in the private sector as well.

The Court should decline this invitation. It should leave constitutional space for the public policy position supported for so long by so many bishops and bishop-led institutions, rather than declare still another such position outside the bounds of what policymakers are permitted to implement by law.

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