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April 2016

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A Clear Choice in November

As if the stakes weren't high enough already, the vacancy created on the Supreme Court when Justice Antonin Scalia died shines the brightest of spotlights on this November's presidential election.

Republicans in Congress are promising to deny President Obama his constitutional right to nominate Scalia's successor, outright refusing to consider his nominee while they cling to the hope that a member of their party ends up in the White House.

But we in the labor movement can't let that happen. The Supreme Court is the last line of defense in our democracy against unjust laws, and these politicians aim to replace one of the most right-wing justices in Supreme Court history with another one just like him or worse.

At the time of his death in February, Scalia was likely preparing to cast the deciding vote against working people in a case that would have put every public employee in America in a right-to-work shop. And if we think that case was the only challenge to the rights of hard-working Americans, we are kidding ourselves.

Already, the lawyers behind that case are clamoring for it to be reheard whenever a new justice finally takes the bench. These are the same anti-union lawyers who felt so confident the Scalia Court would side with them that they chose to circumvent elected representatives in California just to speed their argument to Washington.

In Kentucky, a federal judge struck down county-by-county right-to-work laws in February, but the very next day the big business interests behind the attempt were vowing to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court if that's what it takes.

It's no different in Congress, where Republicans have tried to eliminate PLAs and to gut prevailing wage laws this term, and the only thing stopping them from succeeding has been a Democratic president in the White House threatening the veto.

This November, we get to have our say in choosing the next president, who will shape the direction of this closely divided Supreme Court for decades to come.

A lot of candidates out there claim to be speaking to us, but when the smoke clears, we'll be faced with a choice that couldn't be clearer. A Republican president will try to replace Justice Scalia with another friend of union busters. A Democrat will appoint justices who will protect the rights of working people.

We know that no politician is going to side with labor on every issue, and sometimes we're going to be angry with the decisions our so-called friends make in office. But when it comes to the Supreme Court and its lifetime appointments, we can't afford to take chances.

So, while we're not make making an endorsement now, I can promise you that when we do, it will be for the candidate who will nominate a justice who will fight for working families. The risks this November are simply too high.


Also: Stephenson: Manufacturing Excellence: A Top Priority Read Hill's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer