U.S. district judge strikes two Indiana laws affecting teachers union members

On March 30, Senior U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker struck down two Indiana laws passed in 2021 and 2022 that allowed teachers to resign from their union at any time and required annual authorization of union dues deductions. 

Barker wrote:

“Here, SEA 251 and SEA 297 single out a specific group—union-supporting teachers—to subject to additional procedural requirements in order to take advantage of payroll deductions for union dues, but for no other state employees seeking wage assignments. … [T]he State in singling out one specific group whose identity and viewpoints are sufficiently intertwined to be synonymous, and to require that group and only that group to jump through additional hoops and move through complex bureaucratic ‘mother may I’-type steps in order to access the payroll dues deduction process for union dues seems to have done so based on this group’s specific purposes and views. Accordingly, we hold that SEA 251 and SEA 297 do, indeed, discriminate on the basis of viewpoint. … Given the serious underinclusivity of SEA 251 and SEA 297, the State has failed to show that the challenged statutes are narrowly tailored to further its interest either in furthering educational goals to benefit students in our public schools or in complying with Janus, including ensuring ‘individuals are aware of their rights before they opt-in to union membership and execute a wage assignment.’… Accordingly, we hold that the challenged statutes cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny.”

Barker, a nominee of President Ronald Reagan (R), joined the court in 1984 and has served on senior status since 2014.

As of April 13, no appeal had been filed. The case name and number are Anderson Federation of Teachers et al. v. Rokita et al. (No. 1:21-cv-01767).