Labor unions and federations, particularly the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), devote significant resources to litigating before the Supreme Court. This Supreme Court litigation frequently takes place in cases that reach far beyond labor law, meaning that unions help to shape the law governing many aspects of American society. Virtually no legal scholarship considers the role that unions play in these cases, and consequently there has been no systemic attention to the positions that unions take before the Supreme Court. Yet, unions’ litigation positions, especially before the Supreme Court, yield useful information about union strategies and priorities. The labor movement frequently participates in litigation regarding the constitutionality of campaign finance law. Unions’ litigation in this area is particularly important because the structure of campaign finance law plays a role in determining who is elected to office; in other words, legal developments in this area have far-reaching effects on substantive law and policy. This essay lays the groundwork for future analysis of the important relationship between unions and campaign finance litigation. To that end, it describes how the labor movement has sought to shape campaign finance law through litigation, analyzing the contours of union positions in Supreme Court campaign finance cases as well as the outcomes of those cases. It also briefly discusses how the labor movement has adapted to modern campaign finance law, particularly after Citizens United v. FEC.
Unions & Campaign Finance Litigation, 14 NEV. L. J. 364