Good Timing

Right-to-work vote safeguards liberties

No doubt it was pure coincidence that West Virginia Supreme Court justices released their ruling in a critical case just days before Americans celebrated Constitution Day. The timing was appropriate, however.

In their decision on a case involving the state right-to-work law, a majority on the court came down clearly on the side of individual liberties — the very thing the nation’s founders intended the Constitution and, later, the Bill of Rights, to safeguard.

Not long after the law was enacted in early 2016, opponents went to court to block it. They found a friend in Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Bailey.

She issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the measure until the statute’s legality itself could be determined. That was 15 months ago, and there has been no apparent action to settle that question.

A week ago, the court released its decision ordering Bailey to abandon the preliminary injunction and expedite action in the case on its merits.

Justice Menis Ketchum’s written explanation of the decision noted that preliminary injunctions should be issued only in cases in which there is substantial likelihood plaintiffs — in this situation, opponents of right-to-work — can prevail. There is no such likelihood here, Ketchum noted.

In other words, a majority of the court seems to be hinting right-to-work is constitutional.

Of course it is. Put simply, the measure merely requires that individual working men and women have the final say on whether they will join unions. They cannot be compelled to do so.

That would have seemed obvious to those who wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It is a matter of individual liberty.

Why West Virginians permitted their rights in that regard to be curbed for so many years is puzzling. The sooner freedom of choice in the workplace is restored, the better.

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