Big Labor Bullies First Amendment with Scientology Playbook

Published August 3, 2017

The Church of Scientology maintains the universe is 4 quadrillion years old and that most of mankind’s problems are traceable to an imperialistic alien named Lord Xenu. Some 75 million years ago, Xenu won an intergalactic battle by stuffing thetans — sort of like human souls — into volcanos, on which Xenu then dropped hydrogen bombs. Millions of these immortal thetans later attached themselves to humans, causing humans to become sick, confused, depressed and insecure.

The goal of Scientology is to help humans to “clear” their bodies of thetans by devoting hundreds of thousands of dollars to cleansing processes developed by the religion’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, who holds the record for the greatest number of books published by one author (1,064). His sacred science fiction works are stored in a nuclear-blast-proof vault below the surface of planet Earth.

Despite having only 25,000 American members by some counts, the Church of Scientology’s liquid assets of $1 billion exceeded those of the Roman Catholic Church in 2013. But the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology almost collapsed in the 1990s under a $1 billion bill from the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid taxes. The IRS finally restored the organization’s tax-exempt church status in 1993 in exchange for the church halting a barrage of lawsuits it had filed against the agency, including 2,300 Freedom of Information Act suits.

Today, a big labor union is using a strategy against the Freedom Foundation similar to the strategy the Church of Scientology used to defeat the IRS. The Service Employees International Union has filed multiple expensive lawsuits against the Foundation, an SEIU detractor, in hope of defunding it. To SEIU, bleeding the Freedom Foundation dry is as good as a court order blocking the Foundation’s freedom of speech.

Freedom Foundation Managing Attorney Greg Overstreet told me in June that SEIU is “running out of arguments.” Consequently, “they’ve hit us with a barrage of frivolous lawsuits and campaign-finance complaints. In substance, they’re no different from cases we’ve always won before. But each one requires a response. … [T]he unions aren’t filing these new cases with any expectation of winning. Their true objective is simply to overwhelm our capacity to defend ourselves and thereby bankrupt their most persistent and effective adversary. It won’t work.”

I hope Overstreet is right that SEIU’s strategy “won’t work,” even though the same strategy has brought the IRS and other Scientology detractors to their knees. In 1973, the church sued Paulette Cooper, author of “The Scandal of Scientology,” 19 times and falsified evidence to arrange her indictment by a grand jury for sending bomb threats.

One advantage the Freedom Foundation has that the IRS lacked is citizen appeal. Few private citizens have gone to bat for the IRS. But history is rich with people willing to risk a great deal to defend freedoms supposedly protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Many of the people who should start sticking up for the Freedom Foundation would gain by doing so. The Freedom Foundation’s only crime is informing people about existing law. In 2014’s Harris v. Quinn, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled SEIU violated the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of home health caregivers by automatically extorting agency fees — which are essentially union dues paid by non-members — from them.

“In the wake of Harris,” the Capital Research Center reported in May 2017, “the Freedom Foundation launched an outreach program that employed dozens of paid canvassers who have gone door to door all across the state and into neighboring Oregon to inform health care providers of their right to opt out of paying dues or fees to SEIU.”

The Foundation’s outreach efforts were successful. In response, however, “SEIU has orchestrated a litany of frivolous lawsuits against the Foundation to stop it from speaking to workers,” Freedom Foundation Litigation Counsel David Dewhirst told me in July. “The unions have even convinced the Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, to pile on and prosecute the Foundation for not reporting as campaign expenditures its various pro bono legal services to citizens across the state.”

Laborers are being scammed, but not by an intergalactic alien monster. The West Coast has its own labor lord, and it has government reinforcements.

[Originally Published at the Orange County Register]