The Big Deci­sion isn’t until tomor­row, but the Supreme Court has had a busy and pro­duc­tive ses­sion, with a plethora of cases that will have sig­nif­i­cant impact in the com­ing years.

One of the cases I pre­viewed, Knox v. Ser­vice Employ­ees Inter­na­tional Union, will affect the abil­ity of unions to involve them­selves in the demo­c­ra­tic process in Amer­ica. If cor­po­ra­tions are peo­ple, because peo­ple own cor­po­ra­tions and get div­i­dends from them, then surely unions are peo­ple, since the point of unions is to rep­re­sent the inter­ests of their mem­bers. That being the case, if cor­po­ra­tions can pro­vide unlim­ited fund­ing for cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions, under the assump­tion that they rep­re­sent the inter­ests of their share­hold­ers, it seems rea­son­able for unions to do so as well. Or does it?

In 2010, unions were out­spent by cor­po­ra­tions four­teen to one. Appar­ently see­ing this as a dan­ger­ously nar­row ratio, var­i­ous corporate-​​backed politi­cians have been doing their part to strip unions of even this much influ­ence, per­haps by doing away with unions com­pletely. Mean­while, the Supreme Court has allowed cor­po­ra­tions and wealthy indi­vid­ual to spend as much as they want.

Unions had one final tool in their box. When emer­gency sit­u­a­tions came up, unions could require dues-​​paying mem­bers to tem­porar­ily pay more. This appar­ently included sud­den costs relat­ing to polit­i­cal expenses. That is, until last week.

In a five-​​to-​​four rul­ing, the Supreme Court has decided unions must inform their mem­ber­ship of upcom­ing polit­i­cal expenses, and allow them to opt out, under the the­ory that some union mem­bers might oth­er­wise be com­pelled to fund polit­i­cal speech they dis­agree with. (Appar­ently this con­cern does not apply to employ­ees or share­hold­ers of corporations.)

Two Jus­tices, con­cur­ring in the judg­ment, crit­i­cized the major­ity for adopt­ing an opt-​​in sys­tem of fee col­lec­tion which was “not con­tained in the ques­tions pre­sented, briefed, or argued.”

Two Jus­tices, dis­sent­ing, pointed out that unions have always been allowed to cal­cu­late each year’s fee based on its expenses dur­ing the pre­vi­ous year. Although an imper­fect sys­tem, it is not unconstitutional.

Despite these objec­tions, five Supreme Court Jus­tices have made a deci­sion that will fur­ther limit the abil­ity of unions to par­tic­i­pate in our national discussion.

What do you think of the deci­sion? Is there a con­scious polit­i­cal effort under­way to crip­ple unions? If so, is that desirable?

Should polit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions by cor­po­ra­tions and unions be lim­ited? Ear­lier this week, the Court ruled that states could not cre­ate such lim­its. Should Con­gress act? Do we need a Con­sti­tu­tional Amendment?

Or is it proper and desir­able that our pol­i­tics and our pub­lic dis­course should be dom­i­nated and con­trolled and bankrolled by cor­po­rate inter­ests and the own­ers of cor­po­rate interests?