Ideas to Impact Blog

Allegiance to the Constitution, With Its Principles of Limited Government, Federalism, Separation of Powers, and Individual Liberties

The-Fairness-Center-logo-hiHartford, Connecticut public school teacher John Grande isn’t one to mince words. So when administrators asked John and his peers what they thought of the “diversity” course they’d just endured, his succinct reply spoke volumes.

“I was just man-bashed and white-shamed. I’m gonna sit here quietly.”

In case the training leaders didn’t get the point, John continued asserting his constitutionally-protected right to free expression in a follow up survey, opining that the degrading course was “part of the Superintendent’s agenda to advance her career.”

District policy was explicitly stated that such expressions of opinion are protected under the First Amendment. So, John was surprised to learn months later that an investigation had been launched without his knowledge, accusing him of creating “an unsafe and hostile environment.” The investigation included three specific claims that John believed contained falsehoods intended to defame him.

As you can imagine, he didn’t take that news lying down. He asked the teachers union to defend him against the falsehoods. When the union declined, John contacted the Fairness Center and sued the union for failing to live up to its obligation to do so. John won that case in the Summer of 2023, but he and the Fairness Center weren’t done. In January, they filed suit against the school board and administrators because, as John puts it:

They launched a witch hunt against me and ran a kangaroo court to convict me for exercising my free speech rights. They threatened my career to silence me, but with this lawsuit, I’m leveling the playing field and forcing school officials to answer for trampling my rights.

Because of Bradley Impact Fund members like you, the Fairness Center (FC) was ready to stand with John and represent him without charge. In fact, FC has put dozens of public unions on notice: the days of abusing their members’ rights are numbered. FC represents public employees and others who are defending their constitutional rights, facing union retaliation, fighting unfair representation, or demanding accountability for union officials’ corruption.

The Fairness Center doesn’t simply parachute in to make a constitutional argument or write an amicus brief. FC exists to ensure that a union follows the law and doesn’t violate the rights of its clients. The Center has sometimes sued a union multiple times in a single year. FC also goes deep into the legal discovery process, uncovering criminality which is subsequently prosecuted. This makes the organization a unique and indispensable protector of constitutional rights.

With clients including teachers, firefighters, municipal employees, liquor store employees, public university professors, corrections officers, traffic agents, and others who have been hurt by public-sector union officials, FC offers free legal services in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New York and to federal government employees (including class action lawsuits) wherever they work or reside.

Since its founding in 2014, FC has helped more than 150 clients whose cases often reverberate far beyond victory for the brave individual who steps forward. In fact, they’ve won decisions that had the effect of:

  • Applying the US Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus decision to Pennsylvania law;

  • Forcing Pennsylvania’s largest public-sector unions to abandon limitations on when their 50,000 members can leave the union; and

  • Defending a Connecticut firefighters union’s right to separate from a state union, exposing what a court called “questionable” financial practices, among many other victories.

The Fairness Center and other First Amendment-focused law firms have been a big part in the belated, but far from sufficient, pushback against diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), which has now seen more than a dozen states pass or propose laws rolling back these unjust requirements at colleges and universities. In December, Oklahoma banned DEI at all state agencies. In blue states and many progressive institutions like public labor unions, this toxic ideology still has a hold. But even many liberals have been harmed by DEI initiatives or have seen it cut away at their businesses’ bottom lines, and they’re losing patience with what they originally thought would help bring unity and equality to their enterprises.

By defending the rights of workers like John Grande against powerful public unions, the Fairness Center epitomizes the Bradley Impact Fund’s principle of defending the constitutional order that laid the foundations for the most dynamic society and economy the world has ever seen.

A case defending a public school teacher’s constitutional right to free expression might not make national headlines. But to John, his family, and hundreds of thousands of faithful workers just like him, this fight means the world.

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