SCOTUS 4-4 decision hands public sector unions a victory

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Cherry blossom trees bloom on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court.

WASHINGTON, DC —  In an unexpected victory for supporters of unions, the Supreme Court said Tuesday it was evenly divided in a case concerning public sector unions, and therefore it affirmed the lower court decision in organized labor’s favor.

The result, leaves intact a near 40-year-old precedent and is most likely reflective of the impact that Justice Antonin Scalia’s death had on pending cases.

Before oral arguments, the high court seemed poised to deal a major blow to unions, and overrule precedent. But with Scalia’s death there were no longer five justices available to do so.

President Barack Obama has nominated Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s seat, though Republicans have said they want the next president to nominate the replacement. Garland is scheduled to have his first meeting with a Republican senator Tuesday when he sits down with Mark Kirk of Illinois, a centrist running for re-election in a Democratic-leaning state.