ILNews

Judge dismisses federal right-to-work challenge

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrint

A U.S. District judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed in Hammond by a labor union challenging the state’s right-to-work law for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Chief Judge Philip P. Simon in the Northern District of Indiana did allow two counts claiming the law violates the Indiana Constitution to proceed in state court.

Simon handed down his ruling Thursday in James M. Sweeney, et al. v. Mitch Daniels, et al., 2:12-CV-PPS/PRC, the suit filed by the Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers and several of its officers and members after Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the right-to-work legislation into law Feb. 1, 2012.

The law prevents forced union membership and union security clauses.

The lawsuit challenges the new law under the Contracts Clause, Ex Post Facto Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and preemption claims, and alleges the law violates the state constitution.

Simon found that Section 3 – which says nothing in the law changes or effects “any law concerning” collective bargaining in the building and construction industry other than a law that allows agreements requiring union member or payments of dues to a union or substitute payments to charities – is not a substantive provision and not retroactive.

“Because there exists a plausible public policy reason for enacting the Right to Work statute based on economic theories which the legislators may have believed to be true, and the relationship of that rationale to the legislation is not arbitrary or irrational, the Equal Protection challenge fails,” he wrote.

Simon found the union’s preemption challenges to the law and the Emergency Rule all run “headlong” into Retail Clerks Int’l Ass’n, Local 1625 v. Schermerhorn, 375  U.S. 96, 102 (1963) (Retail Clerks II), and should be dismissed.

Counts 8 and 9, which claim the right-to-work law violates various provisions of the Indiana Constitution, were dismissed without prejudice to allow them to proceed in state court.

“For better or worse, the political branches of government make policy judgments. The electorate can ultimately decide whether those judgments are sound, wise and constitute good governance, and then can express their opinions at the polls and by other means. But those are questions beyond the reach of the federal court, which instead is limited to analysis of particular legal arguments that the challenged legislation runs afoul of preemptive federal labor law or the U.S. Constitution. None of the legal challenges launched by the Union here to attack Indiana’s new Right to Work law can succeed,” Simon summarized.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller released a statement Thursday after the ruling, saying, “The federal court’s decision supports the legal authority and policy decisions of the people’s elected representatives in the Legislature, and we appreciate the court’s thorough analysis. My office will continue to defend the statute from legal challenge or appeal in any future court action.”

In October 2012, Lake Circuit Judge George Paras allowed a challenge to the law filed in state court to proceed. That case, United Steel v. Lori Torres, et al., 45C01-1207-PL-71, has a status hearing set for Jan. 29.  

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

ADVERTISEMENT