With the untimely passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia 6 weeks ago, court watchers immediately began speculating how his absence (and his unfilled seat) would impact a host of important cases pending before the court.  We got our first taste this week as the court announced a 4 – 4 split decision in Friedrichs v California Teachers Association, thereby upholding by default, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling.  The issue involved the current practice in 24 states and the District of Columbia where current state law authorize unions to require payment of fees from non-union members to cover the cost of “collective bargaining”.   In Friedrichs, the specific question was whether the public-sector “agency shop” arrangement should be invalidated and if it violated one’s free speech to require them to pay fees to a union that used that money to fund political speech with which the non-member teachers may not agree.  In the wake of oral arguments presented to the court in January, speculation was strong that the Court was poised to invalidate the practice and overturn the 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Right-to-work laws, currently on the books in 26 states, are the antithesis to this “agency shop” practice in that they specifically prohibit a state from requiring the payment of agency fees as a condition of employment.