Can government employees be required to pay union fees, even if they don’t belong to the union? Can you wear a “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirt to a polling place? And do pro-life crisis pregnancy centers have to advertise that abortions are available elsewhere?
Each of these questions is at the crux of a case the Supreme Court will hear in the coming weeks. And while the particular facts differ, each gets to a dispute over one of the fundamental rights in American society: freedom of speech, and specifically whether it includes the right to avoid compelled speech.
“Free speech isn’t free if the government can force you to say things you disagree with,” says Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network.