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Educator Gag Bill Lawsuit

AEA Files Lawsuit Over Anti-Labor Bill
On May 23, 2011, the Arizona Education Association (AEA) filed a lawsuit contesting the constitutionality of Senate Bill 1365.

This bill, passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Governor Jan Brewer in April, places restrictions on payroll dues deduction as a method of dues collection for the AEA and other employee organizations.  The lawsuit declares SB1365 violates the First Amendment right to free speech by imposing unconstitutional conditions.  The bill significantly impairs an organization's political and associational activities and places unlawful prior restraint on speech.

"AEA is the voice of educators, and SB1365 infringes on the free speech of Arizona teachers," says Andrew F. Morrill, President of the Arizona Education Association.  "We encourage public discourse and are vigilant in expressing the views of our members.  We expect our views to be countered and opposed through a fair public and political process, but there is a difference between opposing policy and silencing an organization that offers alternative opinions."

The bill also excludes public safety employee unions, discriminating one group of employees over others.  The lawsuit states that the exclusion of one group of employee representatives from the effects of the bill violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.

"Arizona is a right-to-work state, and this is an issue about fair access to those rights," says Morrill.  "AEA members join the association voluntarily because they believe in and support our mission of quality public education for every child in Arizona.  This bill attempts to quiet the voices of Arizona's teachers as they speak up for their profession, their students, and for public education."

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