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Press Release

Attorney General Issues Legal Opinion on Janus Decision

State employees First Amendment rights are not adequately protected, State not in compliance with U.S. Supreme Court ruling

August 27, 2019

(Anchorage) – Today Attorney General Kevin G. Clarkson released a formal opinion on the State of Alaska’s compliance with the United States Supreme Court decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31. The opinion finds that the State must take significant additional steps to protect the First Amendment rights to free speech for State employees.

“Forcing State employees through state law to pay union dues that will be used for political purposes and speech they may not agree with has created an unconstitutional restriction of free speech,” said Attorney General Clarkson. “The nation’s highest court has ruled repeatedly that freedom of speech also means the right to refrain from speaking at all. In order to comply with the highest court’s ruling and the U.S. Constitution, the State has to determine that an employee must have freely and knowingly consented to have dues deducted from their paychecks.”

To bring the State into compliance with the Janus decision, Attorney General Clarkson says the State will need to significantly change its payroll process by obtaining “clear and compelling evidence it has the employee’s consent before deducting union dues and fees."

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Department Media Contact: Senior Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills at (907) 465-2132 or cori.mills@alaska.gov.