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Vox Sentences: Free speech or free riders?

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The Supreme Court hears a case with big implications for the future of unions; China’s Xi Jinping could rule for life.

Déjà vu on a definitive Supreme Court case

Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • The future of public sector unions was on the docket at the Supreme Court on Monday, as justices heard a case about whether workers who don’t join the union can be required to pay some fees. [NPR / Nina Totenberg]
  • Workers at unionized workplaces who don’t join or pay dues are still covered by collective bargaining agreements. The “fair share” or “agency” fees are meant to cover costs of negotiating that contract, without requiring nonmembers to pay for the union’s political or organizing activity. [SCOTUSblog / Amy Howe]
  • The plaintiff, Mark Janus, argues that he’s being forced to pay a union he doesn’t support — infringing his right to freedom of speech. [Chicago Tribune / Mark Janus]
  • A victory for Janus would be very bad news for unions, as many who currently pay dues or fees would likely choose to stop — either because they don’t want to spend the money or because they object to the unions. [NYT / Adam Liptak]
  • This is a very big deal for conservative donors. Behind Janus is a well-coordinated, deep-pocketed network of donors and activists on the right. [NYT / Noam Scheiber and Kenneth P. Vogel​]
  • The decline of organized labor overall has been very good for Republicans. New research finds that right-to-work laws decrease Democratic presidential vote share by up to 3.5 percentage points. [Slate / Sean McElwee and Mark Joseph Stern]
  • If this all sounds a little ... familiar to you, that’s because the Supreme Court heard a very similar case in 2015 and then deadlocked, 4-4, after Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016. [Vox / Libby Nelson]

Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to rule his country for life

  • On Sunday, the Chinese Communist Party proposed changing the country’s constitution to allow President Xi Jinping to remain in power beyond his scheduled departure in 2023. [CNN / James Griffiths and Tim Schwarz]
  • Xi is already one of the most powerful leaders in the country’s history, but the chance to remain in power for decades to come would make Chinese history.
  • On the docket for the next countless years? Continuing to reform the Communist Party’s control of the economy, allowing it to function like a pseudo-free market while giving the country’s armed forces freer rein to project Chinese power. [Vox / Alex Ward and Zeeshan Aleem]
  • After the announcement, censors got to work to quell public response., which monitors content censored from Weibo (China’s version of Twitter), cited key phrases that were being deleted, including “proclaiming oneself an emperor,” “amendment to the constitution,” and “election term.” [BBC / Kerry Allen]
  • How likely is the proposal to pass? Well, the party-controlled legislature, the National People’s Congress, has never voted down a proposal from party leaders. Congress holds its annual full session starting on March 5. [NYT / Chris Buckley and Keith Bradsher]


  • The North Pole’s winter weather is ... mild. And we should all be worried. [Washington Post / Jason Samenow]
  • In other doomsday news, Norway will spend $13 million to upgrade its seed vault. [The Verge / Thuy Ong]
  • Weighted blankets — which have long been used to treat sensory processing disorders — have gone mainstream in an effort to relieve anxiety. [New Yorker / Jia Tolentino]
  • A new study suggests that your moral compass can be influenced by something as seemingly arbitrary as the language you’re speaking. [Mental Floss / Michele Debczak]


“So I just started driving for Uber and Lyft and I’ve been getting a lot more compliments on my music since generalizing my passengers by 1 of these 11 playlists.” [A ride-hail driver tweets his tips for getting five-star ratings / Twitter]

Watch this: I am a Salvadoran immigrant fighting to stay in the US

For many immigrants, Temporary Protected Status has been dragging on for nearly 20 years. Now they risk deportation. [YouTube / Christina Thornell and Kimberly Mas]

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