Federal appeals court upholds Alabama law banning public payroll deductions for political activity

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A federal appeals court upheld an Alabama law that makes it difficult for public employee unions to raise funds for political activities by automatic payroll deductions.

In an announcement Wednesday, Attorney General Luther Strange praised a decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Alabama Education Association v. Robert Bentley, which upheld the law banning payroll deductions from public employees to groups using the money for political activity.

The 2010 law was one of the “paycheck protection” proposals passed in several states since the 1990s.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, supporters of the movement believe the bills will fight corruption and “save taxpayers money [by removing]the government from the role of collecting money used for political purposes, and will increase workers’ control over how their wages are spent.”

Opponents believe the movement was designed to make it difficult for unions to raise money; saying it represents a violation of First Amendment rights of free speech.

“For the second time in two days, the federal appeals court has upheld the constitutionality of Alabama’s political corruption laws and delivered a significant victory for the people of Alabama in their ongoing fight against political corruption,” Strange said. “This law, in particular, will stop special interest groups from exploiting state resources to further their own, private political agendas.”

On Sept. 28, the 11th Circuit Court ruled the law did not violate the First Amendment rights of politically active groups looking to finance activities with automatic payroll donations from public employees.

The decision was the final step in a five-year legal battle, which produced five separate appellate opinions.

“Today’s ruling also marks the end of major litigation seeking to reverse a series of laws passed by the Legislature during its 2010 Special Session. These laws shared a common theme: to enhance ethics and integrity in our state government,” Strange said. “Challenges to a majority of those laws have been brought and pursued at length. But every one of these challenges to reach final resolution has failed.”

In his statement, Strange also commended his Constitutional Defense Section, notably Deputy Attorney General Jim Davis and Assistant Attorney General Will Parker, for its work in this case.

Federal appeals court upholds Alabama law banning public payroll deductions for political activity