Independent Institute Files Amicus Brief in US Supreme Court Case Impacting Workers' Free Speech Rights : News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
April 19, 2023

Independent Institute Files Amicus Brief in US Supreme Court Case Impacting Workers’ Free Speech Rights

Oakland, CA—The Independent Institute has filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in a case that could classify independent contractors and gig economy workers as employees. The case challenges the violation of free speech rights and seeks to alleviate the severe economic harm caused by California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) which was passed to regulate the use of independent contractors in a variety of activities.

The brief supports the petition for certiorari filed in Mobilize the Message v. Bonta, Case No. 22-865, urging the Supreme Court to review an October 2022 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Filed by the law firm Wiley Rein LLP on behalf of the Independent Institute, National Federation of Independent Businesses Small Business Legal Center, Inc., and New Jobs America, the brief states that by classifying contractors as employees, AB5 imposes content-based speech restrictions, violating workers of their First Amendment rights.

The filing also states that AB5 creates additional costs for businesses that could impact California’s labor market. The extra expense would likely mean, businesses would cut contractor jobs or make the jobs of contractors less flexible than their current positions.

“If allowed to stand, the Ninth Circuit’s decision threatens First Amendment rights by imposing content-based limitations on political canvassers’ speech, and imposes unfair economic pressures on employers who want or need to hire independent contractors for their business,” said Krystal B. Swendsboe, counsel of record for the brief.

Wage and training benefits are lost when independent contractors are reclassified as employees, the brief states. The flexibility, autonomy, and control prized by independent contractors are unique to independent contracting and simply cannot be replicated in traditional employment.


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The Independent Institute is a non-profit research and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. For more information, visit

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