Reprinted from The New York Times by Noam Scheiber on July 18, 2018.
Even before the Supreme Court struck down mandatory union fees for government workers last month, the next phase of the conservative legal campaign against public-sector unions was underway.
In March, with the decision looming, lawyers representing government workers in Washington State asked a federal court to order one of the state’s largest public-employee unions “to disgorge and refund” fees that nonmembers had already paid. Similar lawsuits were filed in California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Ohio.
The complaints could upend the legal system by arguing that states and private parties like unions face liability even though they followed the law as it existed at the time. They could also cost unions hundreds of millions of dollars.
Beyond their legal claims, the cases share another striking detail: The lead counsel in each is a conservative lawyer named Jonathan Mitchell.
Mitchell, 41, has a formidable résumé. He was a Supreme Court clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia; worked at the Justice Department under President George Bush; taught at several law schools, including Stanford; and spent more than four years as the solicitor general of Texas. …
Mitchell appears to be a driving force behind the anti-union litigation, suggesting a well-coordinated effort. …