In The

Supreme Court of the United States



KNIGHT et al.

Decided February 21, 1984

Justice O’Connor, For the Court

Topic: First Amendment*Court vote: 6–3
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Joining O'Connor opinion: Justice BLACKMUN Justice BLACKMUN Chief Justice BURGER Chief Justice BURGER Justice REHNQUIST Justice REHNQUIST Justice WHITE Justice WHITE
Citation: 465 U.S. 271 Docket: 82–898Audio: Listen to this case's oral arguments at Oyez

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JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

The State of Minnesota authorizes its public employees to bargain collectively over terms and conditions of employment. It also requires public employers to engage in official exchanges of views with their professional employees on policy questions relating to employment but outside the scope of mandatory bargaining. If professional employees forming an appropriate bargaining unit have selected an exclusive representative for mandatory bargaining, their employer may exchange views on nonmandatory subjects only with the exclusive representative. The question presented in these cases is whether this restriction on participation in the nonmandatory subject exchange process violates the constitutional rights of professional employees within the bargaining unit who are not members of the exclusive representative and who may disagree with its views. We hold that it does not.



In 1971, the Minnesota Legislature adopted the Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA), Minn.Stat. § 179.61 et seq. (1982), to establish "orderly and constructive relationships between all public employers and their employees...." § 179.61. The public employers covered by the law are, broadly speaking, the State and its political subdivisions, agencies, and instrumentalities. § 179.63. In its amended form, as in its original form, PELRA provides for the division of public employees into appropriate bargaining units and establishes a procedure, based on majority support within a unit, for the designation of an exclusive bargaining agent for that unit. §§ 179.67, 179.71, 179.741. The statute requires public employers to "meet and negotiate" with exclusive representatives concerning the "terms and conditions of employment," which the statute defines to mean

the hours of employment, the compensation therefor... and the employer's personnel policies affecting the working conditions of the employees.

§§ 179.63, 179.67, 179.71. The employer's and employees' representatives must seek an agreement in good faith. § 179.63, subd. 16.

PELRA also grants professional employees, such as college faculty, the right to "meet and confer" with their employers on matters related to employment that are outside the scope of mandatory negotiations. §§ 179.63, 179.65. This provision rests on the recognition that

professional employees possess knowledge, expertise, and dedication which is helpful and necessary to the operation and quality of public services and which may assist public employers in developing their policies.

§ 179.73. The statute declares it to be the State's policy to "encourage close cooperation between public employers and professional employees" by providing for "meet and confer" sessions on all employment-related questions not subject to mandatory bargaining. Ibid. There is no statutory provision concerning the "meet and confer" process, however, that requires good faith efforts to reach agreement. See Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59 v. Minneapolis Special School Dist. No. 1, 258 N.W.2d 802, 804, n. 2 (Minn.1977).

PELRA requires professional employees to select a representative to "meet and confer" with their public employer. Minn.Stat. § 179.73 (1982). If professional employees in an appropriate bargaining unit have an exclusive representative to "meet and negotiate" with their employer, that representative serves as the "meet and confer" representative as well. Indeed, the employer may neither "meet and negotiate" nor "meet and confer" with any members of that bargaining unit except through their exclusive representative. § 179.66, subd. 7. This restriction, however, does not prevent professional employees from submitting advice or recommendations to their employer as part of their work assignment. Ibid. Moreover, nothing in PELRA restricts the right of any public employee to speak on any "matter related to the conditions or compensation of public employment or their betterment" as long as doing so

is not designed to and does not interfere with the full faithful and proper performance of the duties of employment or circumvent the rights of the exclusive representative if there be one.

§ 179.65, subd. 1.


Appellant Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges (State Board) operates the Minnesota community college system. At the time of trial, the system comprised 18 institutions located throughout the State. Each community college is administered by a president, who reports, through the chancellor of the system, to the State Board.

Prior to 1971, Minnesota's community colleges were governed in a variety of ways. On some campuses, faculty had a strong voice in administrative policymaking, expressed through organizations such as faculty senates. On other campuses, the administration consulted very little with the faculty. Irrespective of the level of faculty involvement in governance, however, the administrations of the colleges retained final authority to make policy.

Following enactment of PELRA, appellant Minnesota Community College Faculty Association (MCCFA) [ Footnote 1 ] was designated the exclusive representative of the faculty of the State's community colleges, which had been deemed a single bargaining unit. [ Footnote 2 ] MCCFA has "met and negotiated" and "met and conferred" with the State Board since 1971. The result has been the negotiation of successive collective bargaining agreements in the intervening years and, in order to implement the "meet and confer" provision, a restructuring of governance practices in the community college system.

On the state level, MCCFA and the Board established "meet and confer" committees to discuss questions of policy applicable to the entire system. On the campus level, the MCCFA chapters and the college administrations created local "meet and confer" committees -also referred to as "exchange of views" committees -to discuss questions of policy applicable only to the campus. The committees on both levels have discussed such topics as the selection and evaluation of administrators, academic accreditation, student affairs, curriculum, and fiscal planning -all policy matters within the control of the college administrations and the State Board. App. to Juris.Statement A-49.

The State Board considers the views expressed by the statewide faculty "meet and confer" committees to be the faculty's official collective position. It recognizes, however, that not every instructor agrees with the official faculty view on every policy question. Not every instructor in the bargaining unit is a member of MCCFA, and MCCFA has selected only its own members to represent it on "meet and confer" committees. Accordingly, all faculty have been free to communicate to the State Board and to local administrations their views on questions within the coverage of the statutory "meet and confer" provision. Id. at A-50, A-52. They have frequently done so. [ Footnote 3 ] With the possible exception of a brief period of adjustment to the new governance structure, during which some administrators were reluctant to communicate informally with faculty, individual faculty members have not been impeded by either MCCFA or college administrators in the communication of their views on policy questions. Id. at A-50. Nor has PELRA ever been construed to impede such communication. [ Footnote 4 ]


Appellees are 20 Minnesota community college faculty instructors who are not members of MCCFA. In December, 1974, they filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, challenging the constitutionality of MCCFA's exclusive representation of community college faculty in both the "meet and negotiate" and "meet and confer" processes. A three-judge District Court was convened to hear the case. A Special Master appointed by the court conducted the trial in 1980 and submitted recommended findings of fact in early 1981. Id. at A-54 to A-81. The three-judge District Court issued its findings of fact in late 1981, id. at A-32 to A-54, and its decision on the legal claims in early 1982, 571 F.Supp. 1.

The court rejected appellees' attack on the constitutionality of exclusive representation in bargaining over terms and conditions of employment, relying chiefly on Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U. S. 209 (1977). The court agreed with appellees, however, that PELRA, as applied in the community college system, infringes First and Fourteenth Amendment speech and associational rights of faculty who do not wish to join MCCFA. By granting MCCFA the right to select the faculty representatives for the "meet and confer" committees and by permitting MCCFA to select only its own members, the court held, PELRA unconstitutionally deprives non-MCCFA instructors of "a fair opportunity to participate in the selection of governance representatives." 571 F.Supp. at 10. The court granted declaratory relief in accordance with its holdings, and enjoined MCCFA from selecting "meet and confer" representatives without providing all faculty the fair opportunity that its selection practice had unconstitutionally denied.

Appellees, the State Board, and MCCFA all filed appeals with this Court, invoking jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1253. The Court summarily affirmed the judgment insofar as the District Court held the "meet and negotiate" provisions of PELRA to be valid. Knight v. Minnesota Community College Faculty Assn., 460 U.S. 1048 (1983). The Court thus rejected appellees' argument, based on A. L. A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U. S. 495 (1935), and on Carter v. Carter Coal Co., 298 U. S. 238 (1936), that PELRA unconstitutionally delegated legislative authority to private parties. The Court's summary affirmance also rejected the constitutional attack on PELRA's restriction to the exclusive representative of participation in the "meet and negotiate" process.

On March 28, 1983, the Court noted probable jurisdiction in the appeals by the Board and MCCFA. 460 U.S. 1050. Several weeks later, following an election held pursuant to a newly established scheme for selecting "meet and confer" representatives, the three-judge District Court modified its injunction to require a specific voting system for the selection of faculty "meet and confer" representatives. [ Footnote 5 ] This Court permitted appellants to add to their appeal a challenge to this new relief. 462 U.S. 1104 (1983). We now reverse the District Court's holding that the "meet and confer" provisions of PELRA deprive appellees of their constitutional rights.



Appellees do not and could not claim that they have been unconstitutionally denied access to a public forum. A "meet and confer" session is obviously not a public forum. It is a fundamental principle of First Amendment doctrine, articulated most recently in Perry Education Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U. S. 37, 460 U. S. 45 -46 (1983), that, for government property to be a public forum, it must by long tradition or by government designation be open to the public at large for assembly and speech. Minnesota college administration meetings convened to obtain faculty advice on policy questions have neither by long tradition nor by government designation been open for general public participation. The District Court did not so find, 571 F.Supp. at 9, and appellees do not contend otherwise.

The rights at issue in these cases are accordingly wholly unlike those at stake in Madison Joint School District No. 8 v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Comm'n, 429 U. S. 167 (1976). The Court in that case upheld a claim of access to a public forum, applying standard public forum First Amendment analysis. See Perry Education Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., supra, at 460 U. S. 45 (citing Madison Joint School District as an example of a case involving a "forum generally open to the public" for expressive activity). The school board meetings at issue there were "opened [as] a forum for direct citizen involvement," 429 U.S. at 429 U. S. 175, and "public participation [was] permitted," id. at 429 U. S. 169. The First Amendment was violated when the meetings were suddenly closed to one segment of the public even though they otherwise remained open for participation by the public at large. [ Footnote 6 ] These cases, by contrast, involve no selective closure of a generally open forum, and hence any reliance on the Madison case would be misplaced.

Indeed, the claim in these cases is not even a claim of access to a nonpublic forum, such as the school mail system at issue in Perry Education Assn. A private organization there claimed a right of access to government property for use in speaking to potentially willing listeners among a group of private individuals and public officials not acting in an official capacity. The organization claimed no right to have anyone, public or private, attend to its message. See also United States Postal Service v. Greenburgh Civic Assns., 453 U. S. 114 (1981) (postal letterbox); Greer v. Spock, 424 U. S. 828 (1976) (military base); Lehman v. City of Shaker Heights, 418 U. S. 298 (1974) (advertising space on municipal bus); Adderley v. Florida, 385 U. S. 39 (1966) (county jail). Appellees here make a claim quite different from those made in the nonpublic-forum cases. They do not contend that certain government property has been closed to them for use in communicating with private individuals or public officials not acting as such who might be willing to listen to them. Rather, they claim an entitlement to a government audience for their views.

"Meet and confer" sessions are occasions for public employers, acting solely as instrumentalities of the State, to receive policy advice from their professional employees. Minnesota has simply restricted the class of persons to whom it will listen in its making of policy. Thus, appellees' principal claim is that they have a right to force officers of the State acting in an official policymaking capacity to listen to them in a particular formal setting. [ Footnote 7 ] The nonpublic-forum cases concern government's authority to provide assistance to certain persons in communicating with other persons who would not, as listeners, be acting for the government. As the discussion below makes clear, the claim that government is constitutionally obliged to listen to appellees involves entirely different considerations from those on which resolution of nonpublic-forum cases turn. Hence, the nonpublic-forum cases are largely irrelevant to assessing appellees' novel constitutional claim. [ Footnote 8 ]

The District Court agreed with appellees' claim to the extent that it was limited to faculty participation in governance of institutions of higher education. The court reasoned that "issues in higher education have a special character." 571 F.Supp. at 8. Tradition and public policy support the right of faculty to participate in policymaking in higher education, the court stated, and the "right of expression by faculty members also holds a special place under our Constitution." Id. at 8-9. Because of the "vital concern for academic freedom," the District Court concluded,

when the state compels creation of a representative governance system in higher education and utilizes that forum for ongoing debate and resolution of virtually all issues outside the scope of collective bargaining, it must afford every faculty member a fair opportunity to participate in the selection of governance representatives.

Id. at 9-10.

This conclusion is erroneous. Appellees have no constitutional right to force the government to listen to their views. They have no such right as members of the public, as government employees, or as instructors in an institution of higher education.


The Constitution does not grant to members of the public generally a right to be heard by public bodies making decisions of policy. In Bi-Metallic Investment Co. v. State Board of Equalization, 239 U. S. 441 (1915), this Court rejected a claim to such a right founded on the Due Process Cause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Speaking for the Court, Justice Holmes explained:

Where a rule of conduct applies to more than a few people, it is impracticable that everyone should have a direct voice in its adoption. The Constitution does not require all public acts to be done in town meeting or an assembly of the whole. General statutes within the state power are passed that affect the person or property of individuals, sometimes to the point of ruin, without giving them a chance to be heard. Their rights are protected in the only way that they can be in a complex society, by their power, immediate or remote, over those who make the rule.

Id. at 239 U. S. 445. In Madison Joint School District No. 8 v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Comm'n, which sustained a First Amendment challenge to a restriction on access to a public forum, the Court recognized the soundness of Justice Holmes' reasoning outside the due process context. The Court stated:

Plainly, public bodies may confine their meetings to specified subject matter, and may hold nonpublic sessions to transact business.

429 U.S. at 429 U. S. 175, n. 8.

Policymaking organs in our system of government have never operated under a constitutional constraint requiring them to afford every interested member of the public an opportunity to present testimony before any policy is adopted. Legislatures throughout the Nation, including Congress, frequently enact bills on which no hearings have been held or on which testimony has been received from only a select group. Executive agencies likewise make policy decisions of widespread application without permitting unrestricted public testimony. Public officials at all levels of government daily make policy decisions based only on the advice they decide they need and choose to hear. To recognize a constitutional right to participate directly in government policymaking would work a revolution in existing government practices.

Not least among the reasons for refusing to recognize such a right is the impossibility of its judicial definition and enforcement. Both federalism and separation of powers concerns would be implicated in the massive intrusion into state and federal policymaking that recognition of the claimed right would entail. Moreover, the pragmatic considerations identified by Justice Holmes in Bi-Metallic Investment Co. v. State Board of Equalization, supra, are as weighty today as they were in 1915. Government makes so many policy decisions affecting so many people that it would likely grind to a halt were policymaking constrained by constitutional requirements on whose voices must be heard. "There must be a limit to individual argument in such matters if government is to go on." Id. at 239 U. S. 445. Absent statutory restrictions, the State must be free to consult or not to consult whomever it pleases.

However wise or practicable various levels of public participation in various kinds of policy decisions may be, this Court has never held, and nothing in the Constitution suggests it should hold, that government must provide for such participation. In Bi-Metallic, the Court rejected due process as a source of an obligation to listen. Nothing in the First Amendment or in this Court's case law interpreting it suggests that the rights to speak, associate, and petition require government policymakers to listen or respond to individuals' communications on public issues. Indeed, in Smith v. Arkansas State Highway Employees, 441 U. S. 463, 441 U. S. 464 -466 (1979), the Court rejected the suggestion. No other constitutional provision has been advanced as a source of such a requirement. Nor, finally, can the structure of government established and approved by the Constitution provide the source. It is inherent in a republican form of government that direct public participation in government policymaking is limited. See The Federalist No. 10 (J. Madison). Disagreement with public policy and disapproval of officials' responsiveness, as Justice Holmes suggested in Bi-Metallic, supra, is to be registered principally at the polls.


Appellees thus have no constitutional right as members of the public to a government audience for their policy views. As public employees, of course, they have a special interest in public policies relating to their employment. Minnesota's statutory scheme for public employment labor relations recognizes as much. Appellees' status as public employees, however, gives them no special constitutional right to a voice in the making of policy by their government employer.

In Smith v. Arkansas State Highway Employees, supra, a public employees' union argued that its First Amendment rights were abridged because the public employer required employees' grievances to be filed directly with the employer and refused to recognize the union's communications concerning its members' grievances. The Court rejected the argument.

The public employee surely can associate, and speak freely and petition openly, and he is protected by the First Amendment from retaliation for doing so. See Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U. S. 563, 391 U. S. 574 -575 (1968); Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U. S. 479 (1960). But the First Amendment does not impose any affirmative obligation on the government to listen, to respond or, in this context, to recognize the association and bargain with it.

Id. at 364 U. S. 465 (footnote omitted). The Court acknowledged that

[t]he First Amendment protects the right of an individual to speak freely, to advocate ideas, to associate with others, and to petition his government for redress of grievances.

Id. at 364 U. S. 464. The government had not infringed any of those rights, the Court concluded. "[A]ll that the [government] has done in its challenged conduct is simply to ignore the union. That it is free to do." Id. at 364 U. S. 466.

The conduct challenged here is the converse of that challenged in Smith. There the government listened only to individual employees and not to the union. Here the government "meets and confers" with the union and not with individual employees. The applicable constitutional principles are identical to those that controlled in Smith. [ Footnote 9 ] When government makes general policy, it is under no greater constitutional obligation to listen to any specially affected class than it is to listen to the public at large.


The academic setting of the policymaking at issue in these cases does not alter this conclusion. To be sure, there is a strong, if not universal or uniform, tradition of faculty participation in school governance, and there are numerous policy arguments to support such participation. See American Association for Higher Education -National Education Association, Faculty Participation in Academic Governance (1967); Brief for American Association of University Professors as Amicus Curiae 3-10. But this Court has never recognized a constitutional right of faculty to participate in policymaking in academic institutions.

In several cases, the Court has recognized that infringement of the rights of speech and association guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments " in the case of teachers brings the safeguards of those amendments vividly into operation.'" Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U. S. 479, 364 U. S. 487 (1960) (quoting Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U. S. 183, 344 U. S. 195 (1952) (Frankfurter, J., concurring)). Those cases, however, involved individuals' rights to express their views and to associate with others for communicative purposes. See, e.g., Keyishian v. Board of Regents of University of New York, 385 U. S. 589 (1967); Shelton v. Tucker, supra; Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U. S. 234 (1957). These rights do not entail any government obligation to listen. Smith v. Arkansas State Highway Employees, 441 U. S. 463 (1979). Even assuming that speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment take on a special meaning in an academic setting, they do not require government to allow teachers employed by it to participate in institutional policymaking. Faculty involvement in academic governance has much to recommend it as a matter of academic policy, but it finds no basis in the Constitution.


Although there is no constitutional right to participate in academic governance, the First Amendment guarantees the right both to speak and to associate. Appellees' speech and associational rights, however, have not been infringed by Minnesota's restriction of participation in "meet and confer" sessions to the faculty's exclusive representative. The State has in no way restrained appellees' freedom to speak on any education-related issue or their freedom to associate or not to associate with whom they please, including the exclusive representative. Nor has the State attempted to suppress any ideas.

It is doubtless true that the unique status of the exclusive representative in the "meet and confer" process amplifies its voice in the policymaking process. But that amplification no more impairs individual instructors' constitutional freedom to speak than the amplification of individual voices impaired the union's freedom to speak in Smith v. Arkansas State Highway Employees, supra. Moreover, the exclusive representative's unique role in "meet and negotiate" sessions amplifies its voice as much as its unique role in "meet and confer" sessions, yet the Court summarily affirmed the District Court's approval of that role in these cases. Amplification of the sort claimed is inherent in government's freedom to choose its advisers. A person's right to speak is not infringed when government simply ignores that person while listening to others. [ Footnote 10 ]

Nor is appellees' right to speak infringed by the ability of MCCFA to "retaliate" for protected speech, as the District Court put it, by refusing to appoint them to the "meet and confer" committees. The State of Minnesota seeks to obtain MCCFA's views on policy questions, and MCCFA has simply chosen representatives who share its views on the issues to be discussed with the State. MCCFA's ability to "retaliate" by not selecting those who dissent from its views no more unconstitutionally inhibits appellees' speech than voters' power to reject a candidate for office inhibits the candidate's speech. SeeBranti v. Finkel, 445 U. S. 507, 445 U. S. 533 (1980) (POWELL, J., dissenting).

Similarly, appellees' associational freedom has not been impaired. Appellees are free to form whatever advocacy groups they like. They are not required to become members of MCCFA, and they do not challenge the monetary contribution they are required to make to support MCCFA's representation activities. [ Footnote 11 ] Appellees may well feel some pressure to join the exclusive representative in order to give them the opportunity to serve on the "meet and confer" committees or to give them a voice in the representative's adoption of positions on particular issues. That pressure, however, is no different from the pressure they may feel to join MCCFA because of its unique status in the "meet and negotiate" process, a status the Court has summarily approved. Moreover, the pressure is no different from the pressure to join a majority party that persons in the minority always feel. Such pressure is inherent in our system of government; it does not create an unconstitutional inhibition on associational freedom. [ Footnote 12 ]


Unable to demonstrate an infringement of any First Amendment right, appellees contend that their exclusion from "meet and confer" sessions denies them equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. This final argument is meritless. The interest of appellees that is affected -the interest in a government audience for their policy views -finds no special protection in the Constitution. There being no other reason to invoke heightened scrutiny, the challenged state action "need only rationally further a legitimate state purpose" to be valid under the Equal Protection Clause. Perry Education Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U.S. at 460 U. S. 54. PELRA certainly meets that standard. The State has a legitimate interest in ensuring that its public employers hear one, and only one, voice presenting the majority view of its professional employees on employment-related policy questions, whatever other advice they may receive on those questions. Permitting selection of the "meet and confer" representatives to be made by the exclusive representative, which has its unique status by virtue of majority support within the bargaining unit, is a rational means of serving that interest.

If it is rational for the State to give the exclusive representative a unique role in the "meet and negotiate" process, as the summary affirmance in appellees' appeal in this litigation presupposes, it is rational for the State to do the same in the "meet and confer" process. The goal of reaching agreement makes it imperative for an employer to have before it only one collective view of its employees when "negotiating." See Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. at 431 U. S. 224. [ Footnote 13 ]

Similarly, the goal of basing policy decisions on consideration of the majority view of its employees makes it reasonable for an employer to give only the exclusive representative a particular formal setting in which to offer advice on policy. Appellees' equal protection challenge accordingly fails.


The District Court erred in holding that appellees had been unconstitutionally denied an opportunity to participate in their public employer's making of policy. Whatever the wisdom of Minnesota's statutory scheme for professional employee consultation on employment-related policy, in academic or other settings, the scheme violates no provision of the Constitution. The judgment of the District Court is therefore Reversed.


* Together with No. 82-977, Minnesota Community College Faculty Association et al. v. Knight et al., also on appeal from the same court.

[ Footnote 1 ]

MCCFA is affiliated with the Minnesota Education Association (MEA) and the National Education Association (NEA), also appellants in these cases.

[ Footnote 2 ]

Since 1980, the "community college instructional unit" has been defined by statute. Minn.Stat. § 179.741 (1982).

[ Footnote 3 ]

Indeed, both the Board and the local administrations have regularly made efforts to supplement the "official" advice with other, unofficial communications. Prior to each on-campus Board meeting, the Board has made itself available to persons who wish to express their views individually or in groups. In addition, many faculty members have met with or written to the Board or the system's chancellor to communicate their individual views. On the local level, college presidents have used a variety of means to solicit opinions from their instructors and students, including making themselves available at college-wide "town meetings" or at commons areas, hosting luncheons and breakfasts, appearing at faculty meetings, and inviting faculty advice through maintenance of an "open-door" policy. See App. A-57, A-61 to A-64, A-83 to A-84, A-99 to A-103. Thus, while the "meet and confer" process gives weight to an official collective faculty position as formulated by the faculty's exclusive representative, all instructors have ample opportunity to express their views to their employer on subjects within the purview of the "meet and confer" process.

[ Footnote 4 ]

The repeated suggestions in JUSTICE STEVENS' dissent that the state employer and state employees have been prohibited or deterred by the statute from talking with each other on policy questions, e.g., post at 465 U. S. 302 -307, 465 U. S. 310 -311, 465 U. S. 312, 465 U. S. 322, misunderstand the statute and are flatly contradicted by the District Court's findings. All that the statute prohibits is the formal exchange of views called a "meet and confer" session. It in no way impairs the ability of individual employees or groups of employees to express their views to their employer outside that formal context, and there has been no suggestion in these cases that, after an initial period of adjustment to PELRA, any such communication of views has ever been restrained because it was challenged as constituting a formal "meet and confer" session. None of the testimony selectively quoted by JUSTICE STEVENS' dissent recites a single instance of such restraint, and the quoted passages make clear that the prohibition on the employer's holding "meet and confer" sessions with anyone but the exclusive representative has been understood to bar only a certain type of formal exchange, not other exchanges of views. E.g., post at 465 U. S. 305, n. 6, 307, n. 9.

Indeed, the District Court made the following findings of fact:

[A]ll faculty have the right to informally communicate their individual views to administrators, and [the State Board] and MCCFA have never attempted to deny or abridge such rights.

App. to Juris.Statement A-50.

The right of all faculty, both members and nonmembers of MCCFA, to communicate informally and individually with administrative officials has not been impaired....

Id. at A-52.

The plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate any direct, indirect, actual or potential impairment of their associational and free speech rights, except as indicated in [three findings].

Ibid. Those findings were that plaintiffs are impaired in their ability to participate in the "meet and confer" process by their nonmembership in MCCFA, that some plaintiffs felt pressure to join MCCFA because of this reduced opportunity to participate in the "meet and confer" process, and that free speech contrary to MCCFA positions could potentially be chilled by MCCFA's authority to select "meet and confer" representatives. Id. at A-51 to A-52. "The plaintiffs have not demonstrated," however, "that any faculty member's exercise of free speech has been impaired in practice by virtue of this potential inhibition." Id. at A-52. In short, the District Court found that the only restriction on asserted speech rights was the restriction on the opportunity of nonmembers of MCCFA to participate in "meet and confer" sessions.

[ Footnote 5 ]

The Board and MCCFA established a new process for selecting "meet and confer" representatives and held the prescribed election before this Court noted probable jurisdiction. The new process allowed each faculty member to nominate candidates, to run for election, and to vote for each vacancy on both state and local committees. For a voter's ballot to be counted, though, the voter had to cast votes for as many candidates as there were slots to be filled. Only MCCFA members ran for the statewide committees. At the local level, several non-MCCFA instructors ran for office, and MCCFA ran slates of candidates at each institution. Only MCCFA members were elected.

Upon appellees' motion for further relief, the District Court ruled that the new selection scheme failed to provide appellees "the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the meet and confer process." App. A-192. The court ordered that new elections be conducted using a cumulative voting system, under which voters could concentrate their multiple votes on a particular candidate, thereby enhancing the possibility that a non-MCCFA candidate would be elected.

Appellants challenge the District Court's modified order of relief separate and apart from its holding that PELRA is unconstitutional as applied. In light of our disposition on the issue of PELRA's constitutionality, we need not address the validity of the District Court's remedy.

[ Footnote 6 ]

JUSTICE STEVENS' dissent suggests that somehow the Constitution itself opened the school board meeting as a public forum. Post at 465 U. S. 319, n. 28. To the extent that the suggestion is that something other than government designation or long tradition can make government property a public forum, it is a radical departure from elementary First Amendment doctrine. JUSTICE STEVENS offers no indication of what he would substitute for the current test.

JUSTICE STEVENS' dissent also states that the First Amendment prohibits

the exclusion of persons from access to the organs of government based on [a] desire to give one side a monopoly in expressing its views.

Ibid. Presumably, the President and every other public official and governmental body would be required to select the group they listen to on policy questions without regard to viewpoint. The suggestion is discussed at greater length infra at 465 U. S. 283 -285, but merely to state it is to see that it has shocking implications for our political system wholly unsupported by anything this Court has ever held.

[ Footnote 7 ]

Even supposing that a state official acting on behalf of the State in a policymaking capacity could raise a First Amendment objection to the State's instructions concerning how he conducted his official activity, there is no such claim in these cases. Moreover, appellees have no standing to raise any such claim on behalf of community college administrators.

[ Footnote 8 ]

Police Department of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U. S. 92 (1972), is an equal protection version of a nonpublic-forum case. The plaintiffs in Mosley sought access to government property for use in communicating to potentially willing listeners among a group of private individuals or public officials not acting in an official capacity. It has no more relevance to the claim of appellees in these cases than do the First Amendment nonpublic-forum cases.

[ Footnote 9 ]

Although an individual employee may have certain due process rights that a union does not have, these cases involve no claimed deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process.

[ Footnote 10 ]

JUSTICE STEVENS' discussion of the right to "a meaningful opportunity to express one's views" and of First Amendment associational rights is beside the point. Post at 465 U. S. 308 -314. Such rights, whatever their scope, entail no government obligation to listen, and that is what is claimed by appellees. Smith v. Arkansas State Highway Employees, 441 U. S. 463, 441 U. S. 464 -466 (1979). None of the cases cited by JUSTICE STEVENS even considers, let alone supports, a right to be heard by the government on policy questions.

In particular, Healy v. James, 408 U. S. 169 (1972), concerns a group's claim of access to a forum to use in communicating among themselves and with other potentially willing listeners. As pointed out supra at 465 U. S. 280 -283, these cases involve no such claim to a forum. Rather, appellees claim a right to be listened to by persons acting solely in their capacity as representatives of the State. Healy is therefore utterly irrelevant to the validity of appellees' claim.

[ Footnote 11 ]

Under PELRA, public employees are not required to join the organization that acts as their exclusive representative. Minn.Stat. § 179.65, subd. 2 (1982). Nonmembers may, however, be required to pay a fair-share fee to the exclusive representative to cover costs related to negotiating on behalf of the entire bargaining unit. Ibid. This requirement is not at issue in this lawsuit, although it is subject to certain constitutional constraints. See Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U. S. 209, 431 U. S. 217 -237 (1977) (mandatory contributions valid if for bargaining, administration, and grievance activities of exclusive representative but not if for other, ideological activities).

[ Footnote 12 ]

JUSTICE STEVENS quotes certain of the District Court's findings as if to suggest that they undercut our holding. Post at 465 U. S. 308. The suggestion is meritless. The finding that "the weight and significance of individual speech interests have been consciously derogated in favor of systematic, official expression," 571 F.Supp. 1, 8 (1982), is merely one way of saying that the State of Minnesota, as a deliberate policy matter, is committed to listening to the exclusive representative on public employer policy questions. Moreover, it is perfectly true, and perfectly unobjectionable, that "the primary mechanism for any significant faculty-administration communication on... policy questions," App. to Juris.Statement A-49, is the "meet and confer" process. It is likewise obvious and of no legal consequence that the "meet and confer" process "is the only significant forum for the faculty to resolve virtually every issue outside the scope of mandatory bargaining." 571 F.Supp. at 9.

The last statement quoted by JUSTICE STEVENS draws a general conclusion about PELRA: "This structure effectively blocks any meaningful expression by faculty members who are excluded from the formal process." Ibid. Given that it appears in the midst of the District Court's analysis, and not with its findings of fact, the statement was probably intended, and in any case is most sensibly read, as a mixed statement of law and fact, depending for its truth on a definition of "meaningful" that must be based on legal principles. However the statement is read, though, appellees have no constitutional right to be heard on policy questions, and their speech and associational freedoms have been wholly unimpaired.

[ Footnote 13 ]

Abood held that employees may not be compelled to support a union's ideological activities unrelated to collective bargaining. The basis for the holding that associational rights were infringed was the compulsory collection of dues from dissenting employees. 431 U.S. at 431 U. S. 232 -237. Contrary to the suggestion of JUSTICE STEVENS' dissent, see post at 465 U. S. 316, 465 U. S. 321 -322, Abood did not even discuss, let alone adopt, any general bar on "exclusivity" outside the collective bargaining context. Of course, these cases involve no claim that anyone is being compelled to support MCCFA's activities. See n 11, supra.

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