Tennessee House Just Plain Doesn't 'Get' This 'Constitution' Thing, Wants To Ban Unions From Picketing
Earlier this year, Tennessee faced the terrifying possibility that workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga mightvote to unionize. And while the UAW ultimately lost the election, the wise Republicans who control the Tennessee House of Representatives know that the state needs to be vigilant. So they introduced a bill to outlaw "mass picketing" by unions, since after all Tennessee is a right-to-work-with-no-rights-at-work state. HB1688 would specifically impose criminal penalties on "any form of mass picketing activity in the context of a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute."
Congratulations, Tennessee! You get to join Idaho on the bench of state legislatures who have no idea how laws work!
There's only one teensy problem with the Tennessee plan to keep the state safe from union mobs doing all that civil unrest by walking around with signs: Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper issued a legal opinion saying the bill is unconstitutional since it violates the First Amendment, what with the restrictions on free speech and all that. We'll assume that Cooper's sense of the dignity of his office was the only thing holding him back from opining that the bill is "unconstitutional as fuck." For good measure, Cooper added that the bill may also violate the National Labor Relations Act, as if anybody cares about that.
Cooper's opinion found several problems with HB1688, that violate the Constitution. You know, the U.S one that teabaggers love so much and have tattooed on their aortas.
“HB1688 presents a content-based restriction upon speech. It would criminalize ‘any form of mass picketing activity in the context of a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute’,” the opinion says.
It notes the bill "includes labor-dispute-specific proscriptions on conduct that do not apply in non-labor contexts. Furthermore, the injunction provision of HB1688… would establish a different standard for business and private-property owners who are the targets of labor-related mass picketing.”
But doesn't the silly A.G. recognize that unions are dangerous threats to freedom? You can't just let them have the same rights other groups have, or they might start getting ideas that would be Bad For Business.
Our favorite part of the Times-Free Press story is this bit of dialogue between Democratic Caucus chair Mike Turner and A.G. Cooper:
One of Turner’s questions was whether the bill amounted to an “invalid” restriction on speech under the First Amendment. Cooper's short reply, before presenting a detailed legal analysis of prior court decisions, was “yes.”
Tough luck, Tennessee union-busters. Looks like your Attorney General is in the pocket of Big Constitution.
[TimesFreePress.com via tip from "LZ"]
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