The Supreme Court smacked down unions in a 6–3 decision Wednesday that overturned a California law allowing labor groups access to private property.
According to the USA Today, the court’s majority, headed by Chief Justice John Roberts, sided with farmers in ruling unconstitutional a 1970s-era law “that permits union organizers to access farms 120 days a year during non-work hours to meet with employees.”
The plaintiffs reportedly “said the intrusion represented a taking that violated the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition on the government seizing private property ‘without just compensation,'” according to USA Today.
“By plane, boat, cable, or beachcomber”
The decision was a rare one wherein the Supreme Court’s bench was split along party lines precisely. The three liberal justices’ objections were overruled, and the rights of property owners were upheld.
Authoring the majority’s opinion, Roberts cited precedent in agreeing with the farmers.
“Government-authorized invasions of property — whether by plane, boat, cable, or beachcomber — are physical takings requiring just compensation,” the chief justice wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The Founders recognized that the protection of private property is indispensable to the promotion of individual freedom,” he argued.
Roberts was joined in his opinion by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito as well as President Donald Trump’s three appointees to the high court bench, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, the Journal said.
Putting unions in their place
Unsurprisingly, union advocates were outraged by the decision.
“Today the Supreme Court’s conservative majority overturned nearly a half-century of progress for California’s farmworkers, who have struggled to exercise their right to bargain for decent wages and to protect their health and safety,” Karla Walter, who serves as director of employment policy for the left-leaning Center for American Progress, told the Los Angeles Times.
“Reaching farmworkers — the overwhelming majority of whom are Latinx and migrant workers — where they work is critical to protecting their rights and interests,” Walter added.
But while union advocates may believe their rights should override the rights of other Americans, the Supreme Court seems to strongly disagree. Unions will simply have to find another way to organize workers that doesn’t involve invading private property.