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Morning Reads: Today, SCOTUS Will Hear New Attack on Collective Bargaining

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: SCOTUS Will Hear New Attack on Labor

Supreme Court Justices, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan applaud before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Charles Dharapak-Pool/Getty Images)

Latest assault on workers’ rights –> Liz Kennedy of the think tank Demos writes at Salon that an important case being argued before the Supreme Court today, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, “threatens to muzzle workers and further entrench staggering levels of economic inequality in our country, tipping the scales even further in the direction of corporate CEOs and wealthy special interests.” She explains that the case “is ostensibly about one teacher’s right to not join her teachers union, but that choice is already available to any worker everywhere in America.” It focuses on whether all employees, whether union members or not, should pay fees to a union that negotiates on their behalf for higher wages and better workplace conditions.

ALSO: In an editorial, The Nation also takes on the issue, warning that the case “would trigger an earthquake in American labor relations. The legal foundations of thousands of public-sector bargaining agreements, covering millions of workers providing all manner of public services, will disappear. The whole of American public employment, at all levels of government, will become a ‘right to work’ (i.e., right not to pay for service) killing field for unions.”

MEANWHILE: Charles Koch, bankrolling anti-labor forces behind the case, claims he’s “surprised” about the lack of influence he thinks he and his brother David have had this election cycle over the direction of politics and policy in America. In a Financial Times interview with Stephen Foley, he also criticizes Republican frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz for Muslim bashing.

Campaign finance burnout –> At The New York Times, House member Steve Israel pens an op-ed on how our increasingly bizarre campaign finance system helped him decide to retire at the end of his current term: “I’ve spent roughly 4,200 hours in call time, attended more than 1,600 fund-raisers just for my own campaign and raised nearly $20 million in increments of $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000 per election cycle. And things have only become worse in the five years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which ignited an explosion of money in politics by ruling that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in elections.”

Supremacists on the stump –> Jared Taylor, a well-known white supremacist who Charleston shooter Dylann Roof said was an inspiration, has voiced a pro-Trump robocall making the rounds in Iowa. “‘I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America,” Taylor says. “We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.” Talking Points Memo’s Allegra Kirkland reports, “The American Freedom Party had issued a press release Friday announcing the launch of the robocall campaign, calling Trump its ‘Great White Hope.'”

More than most will earn in a lifetime –> Zaid Jilani at The Intercept reports, “According to public disclosures, by giving just 12 speeches to Wall Street banks, private equity firms, and other financial corporations, Clinton made $2,935,000 from 2013 to 2015.”

Valley view –> Gregory Ferenstein interviewed dozens of Silicon Valley “elites” about America’s growing inequality: “They believe that a relatively small slice of geniuses advance humanity more than the combined efforts of everyone else, and that economic growth is better at improving the overall quality of life than burdensome redistribution schemes,” writes Ferenstein at Vox. “And many believe that the best long-term solution to inequality may be a guaranteed basic minimum income, which minimizes regulation on innovation but ensures that the masses are well off.”

Slipped by –> When issuing its 2016 dietary guidelines, the Obama administration’s USDA missed a huge opportunity to reduce the impact of our food system on climate change and environmental degradation, Wired‘s Nick Stockton reports: “Possibly the agencies in charge of drafting the decisions are too close to the industries they are supposed to regulate.”

Another hospital bombing –> “At least four people have been killed and 10 others injured after a strike on a Médecins Sans Frontières-supported hospital in Yemen, the medical aid group said Sunday,” writes Marina Koren at The Atlantic. “The hospital in Razeh is the third hospital supported or run by MSF to be struck in the last three months.” It’s unclear who was behind this latest attack, but MSF said all parties fighting in Yemen were aware of the hospital’s coordinates.

The man who fell to Earth departs –> RIP, David Bowie, 69. He died yesterday after an 18-month battle with cancer, just two days after his birthday and the release of his latest album.

Morning Reads is compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.

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