Janus v. AFSCME: Last, But Certainly Not Least

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by Ryan Adler

Ryan Adler is a Superforecaster and Senior Consultant for Good Judgment who specializes in legal analysis for Good Judgment’s question writing team. He also administers the SCOTUS Challenge on Good Judgment Open, a collaboration between SCOTUSblog and Good Judgment that facilitates probabilistic thinking about court decisions. Ryan can be reached at adler@goodjudgment.com.


As they say at Subway, that’s a wrap.  The Supreme Court closed out its term with a bang, and I don’t mean its disposition of Florida v. Georgia.  Overruling a four-decade old case, five justices ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that public-sector employees could not be forced to pay agency fees (fees design to cover union costs for nonunion workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement).  Long story short, this fact could prove to be an existential threat to unions in the governmental workforce as we know them today.  So how did the crowd do? It went out with its own bang at 85%.

Janus Chart

It’s arguable that this question was easy to forecast, especially with the benefit of the 4-4 tie in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a nearly identical case from 2016.  The only real question was Gorsuch, who was uncharacteristically quiet at oral arguments.  However, I doubt that many saw him voting differently.  Regardless, having a nearly straight line from the day after oral arguments (designated by the unique marker on the charts) is nothing to sneeze at with well-over 200 forecasters participating.  It was a fine end to our first SCOTUS Challenge with our friends at SCOTUSblog.  The Challenge will be back next term, which promises to be filled with the unexpected after Kennedy’s bombshell today.  We will have a post or two with data analysis over the summer, but will be back in full swing this fall.  Enjoy the recess!

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