Judge Gettleman, appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton, was handling a follow-up case by Mr. Janus, after the Supreme Court ruled last year that a public-sector labor union couldn’t demand dues from a worker who disagreed with the union’s politics.
Based on that ruling, Mr. Janus had sued American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, asking that $3,000 in back dues to be refunded to him.
Judge Gettleman last week rejected the request, saying the union had been acting under good law when it collected the dues. And he suggested it was just the vagaries of the political system that led Mr. Janus to win his case before the high court.
“Had the general and/or presidential election resulted differently, the composition of the Supreme Court that decided the case may well have been different, leading to a different result,” Judge Gettleman wrote in his six-page opinion.
The Supreme Court’s decision in the Janus case was 5-4, and it overturned a precedent dating back 41 years. One of those in the majority on the ruling was Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Mr. Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee.
Mr. Trump has escalated a long-simmering debate over the composition of the courts, complaining about adverse rulings by “Obama judges,” particularly those in the 9th Circuit.
In response last year, Chief Justice Roberts took the unusual step of releasing a statement saying judges were impartial to the presidents that appointed them.
“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them,” the chief justice said.
Mr. Janus’s attorneys announced Wednesday they’ll appeal the ruling.
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