Harris v. Quinn

Citation189 L.Ed.2d 620,573 U.S. 616,134 S.Ct. 2618
Decision Date30 June 2014
Docket NumberNo. 11–681.,11–681.
Parties Pamela HARRIS et al., Petitioners v. Pat QUINN, Governor of Illinois, et al.
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

William L. Messenger, Springfield, VA, for Petitioners.

Paul M. Smith, for Respondents.

Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Solicitor General, for the United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting the Respondents.

Catherine E. Stetson, Neal Kumar Katyal, Dominic F. Perella, Mary Helen Wimberly, Hogan Lovells US LLP, Washington, DC, William L. Messenger, Counsel of Record, c/o National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Inc., Springfield, VA, for Petitioners.

Judith A. Scott, Walter Kamiat, Nicole G. Berner, Washington, DC, Robert E. Bloch, Dowd, Bloch & Bennett, Chicago, IL, Stephen P. Berzon, Scott A. Kronland, Counsel of Record, Stacey M. Leyton, P. Casey Pitts, Matthew J. Murray, Altshuler Berzon LLP, San Francisco, CA, for Respondent SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana.

Joel D'alba, Margaret Angelucci, Chicago, IL, John M. West, Counsel of Record, Washington, DC, for Respondents SEIU Local 73 and AFSCME Council 31.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General of Illinois, Michael A. Scodro, Solicitor General, Jane Elinor Notz, Counsel of Record, Deputy Solicitor General, Brett E. Legner, Nadine Jean Wichern, Eldad Malamuth, Clifford W. Berlow, Assistant Attorneys General, Chicago, IL, for Respondent Pat Quinn.

Justice ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the question whether the First Amendment permits a State to compel personal care providers to subsidize speech on matters of public concern by a union that they do not wish to join or support. We hold that it does not, and we therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.


Millions of Americans, due to age, illness, or injury, are unable to live in their own homes without assistance and are unable to afford the expense of in-home care. In order to prevent these individuals from having to enter a nursing home or other facility, the federal Medicaid program funds state-run programs that provide in-home services to individuals whose conditions would otherwise require institutionalization. See 42 U.S.C. § 1396n(c)(1). A State that adopts such a program receives federal funds to compensate persons who attend to the daily needs of individuals needing in-home care. Ibid. ; see also 42 CFR §§ 440.180, 441.300 – 441.310 (2013). Almost every State has established such a program. See Dept. of Health and Human Services, Understanding Medicaid Home and Community Services: A Primer (2010).

One of those States is Illinois, which has created the Illinois Department of Human Services Home Services Program, known colloquially as the state "Rehabilitation Program." Ill. Comp. Stat., ch. 20, § 2405/3(f) (West 2012); 89 Ill. Admin. Code § 676.10 (2007). "[D]esigned to prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of individuals who may instead be satisfactorily maintained at home at a lesser cost to the State," § 676.10(a), the Rehabilitation Program allows participants to hire a "personal assistant" who provides homecare services tailored to the individual's needs. Many of these personal assistants are relatives of the person receiving care, and some of them provide care in their own homes. See App. 16–18.

Illinois law establishes an employer-employee relationship between the person receiving the care and the person providing it. The law states explicitly that the person receiving home care—the "customer""shall be the employer of the [personal assistant]." 89 Ill. Admin. Code § 676.30(b) (emphasis added). A "personal assistant" is defined as "an individual employed by the customer to provide ... varied services that have been approved by the customer's physician," § 676.30(p) (emphasis added), and the law makes clear that Illinois "shall not have control or input in the employment relationship between the customer and the personal assistants." § 676.10(c).

Other provisions of the law emphasize the customer's employer status. The customer "is responsible for controlling all aspects of the employment relationship between the customer and the [personal assistant (or PA) ], including, without limitation, locating and hiring the PA, training the PA, directing, evaluating and otherwise supervising the work performed by the personal assistant, imposing ... disciplinary action against the PA, and terminating the employment relationship between the customer and the PA." § 676.30(b).1 In general, the customer "has complete discretion in which Personal Assistant he/she wishes to hire." § 684.20(b).

A customer also controls the contents of the document, the Service Plan, that lists the services that the customer will receive. § 684.10(a). No Service Plan may take effect without the approval of both the customer and the customer's physician. See § 684.10, 684.40, 684.50, 684.75. Service Plans are highly individualized. The Illinois State Labor Relations Board noted in 1985 that "[t]here is no typical employment arrangement here, public or otherwise; rather, there simply exists an arrangement whereby the state of Illinois pays individuals ... to work under the direction and control of private third parties." Illinois Dept. of Central Management Serv., No. S–RC–115, 2 PERI ¶ 2007, p. VIII–30, (1985), superseded, 2003 Ill. Laws p. 1929.

While customers exercise predominant control over their employment relationship with personal assistants, the State, subsidized by the federal Medicaid program, pays the personal assistants' salaries. The amount paid varies depending on the services provided, but as a general matter, it "corresponds to the amount the State would expect to pay for the nursing care component of institutionalization if the individual chose institutionalization." 89 Ill. Admin. Code § 679.50(a).

Other than providing compensation, the State's role is comparatively small. The State sets some basic threshold qualifications for employment. See §§ 686.10(h)(1)-(10).2 (For example, a personal assistant must have a Social Security number, must possess basic communication skills, and must complete an employment agreement with the customer. §§ 686.10, 686.20, 686.40.) The State mandates an annual performance review by the customer, helps the customer conduct that review, and mediates disagreements between customers and their personal assistants. § 686.30. The State suggests certain duties that personal assistants should assume, such as performing "household tasks," "shopping," providing "personal care," performing "incidental health care tasks," and "monitoring to ensure the health and safety of the customer." § 686.20. In addition, a state employee must "identify the appropriate level of service provider" "based on the customer's approval of the initial Service Plan," § 684.20(a) (emphasis added), and must sign each customer's Service Plan. § 684.10.


Section 6 of the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act (PLRA) authorizes state employees to join labor unions and to bargain collectively on the terms and conditions of employment. Ill. Comp. Stat., ch. 5, § 315/ 6(a). This law applies to "[e]mployees of the State and any political subdivision of the State," subject to certain exceptions, and it provides for a union to be recognized if it is "designated by the [Public Labor Relations] Board as the representative of the majority of public employees in an appropriate unit...." §§ 315/6(a), (c).

The PLRA contains an agency-fee provision, i.e., a provision under which members of a bargaining unit who do not wish to join the union are nevertheless required to pay a fee to the union. See Workers v. Mobil Oil Corp., 426 U.S. 407, 409, n. 1, 96 S.Ct. 2140, 48 L.Ed.2d 736 (1976). Labeled a "fair share" provision, this section of the PLRA provides: "When a collective bargaining agreement is entered into with an exclusive representative, it may include in the agreement a provision requiring employees covered by the agreement who are not members of the organization to pay their proportionate share of the costs of the collective-bargaining process, contract administration and pursuing matters affecting wages, hours and conditions of employment." § 315/6(e). This payment is "deducted by the employer from the earnings of the nonmember employees and paid to the employee organization." Ibid.

In the 1980's, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) petitioned the Illinois Labor Relations Board for permission to represent personal assistants employed by customers in the Rehabilitation Program, but the board rebuffed this effort. Illinois Dept. of Central Management Servs., supra, at VIII–30. The board concluded that "it is clear ... that [Illinois] does not exercise the type of control over the petitioned-for employees necessary to be considered, in the collective bargaining context envisioned by the [PLRA], their ‘employer’ or, at least, their sole employer." Ibid.

In March 2003, however, Illinois' newly elected Governor, Rod Blagojevich, circumvented this decision by issuing Executive Order 2003–08. See App. to Pet. for Cert. 45a–47a. The order noted the Illinois Labor Relations Board decision but nevertheless called for state recognition of a union as the personal assistants' exclusive representative for the purpose of collective bargaining with the State. This was necessary, Gov. Blagojevich declared, so that the State could "receive feedback from the personal assistants in order to effectively and efficiently deliver home services." Id ., at 46a. Without such representation, the Governor proclaimed, personal assistants "cannot effectively voice their concerns about the organization of the Home Services program, their role in the program, or the terms and conditions of their employment under the Program." Ibid.

Several months later, the Illinois Legislature codified that executive order by amending the PLRA. Pub. Act no. 93–204, § 5, 2003 Ill. Laws p. 1930. While...

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