August 24 roundup

  • Ingenious tactic to get bad review off search engines: arrange and win a pretend lawsuit in some other state [Paul Alan Levy, more: followup]
  • Law professor proposes to give out tax breaks based on race. Constitutional problems with that? [Caron/TaxProf]
  • $2,250 for the legal right to thread existing barrels: presidential order expands definition of “manufacturer” under arms treaty, which leaves some gunsmiths nervous [The Truth About Guns]
  • Political corner: Michael Greve reacts to Jonathan Rauch’s Atlantic article, “How Did Our Politics Go Insane?” [Liberty and Law] And for those following my commentary about the Gary Johnson campaign (see earlier), I’ve got a piece at Cato on his rocky relations with conservatives as well as a letter to the editor at the Baltimore Sun;
  • On Naomi Schaefer Riley’s new book, The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians [Carla Main, City Journal; Chris Edwards]
  • But which way would the causation run? Econometric analysis finds “EU membership is positively associated with economic freedom.” [EPI Center] Will Brexit promote freer outcomes in areas like agricultural subsidy, or simply a return to national protection? [Simon Lester, Cato]

A Kathleen Kane footnote, on forfeiture

The office of now-convicted Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane kept the existence of a pile of seized money secret for nearly two years: “Not until the state attorney general’s office filed a forfeiture petition for the money [nearly $1.8 million] in Cumberland County Court on June 16, did its existence become public.” [Allentown Morning Call/Philly.com]

“My inference is that the ABA wants to … limit lawyers’ expression of viewpoints that it disapproves of.”

Eugene Volokh on troubling implications for speech of the American Bar Association’s new adoption of rules declaring it a professional responsibility violation for lawyers to express bias in various ways, including in the course of “law-related social activities.” More: ABA Journal, Ron Rotunda/WSJ, Stephen Bainbridge.

Labor and employment roundup

  • “Clusters” of nursing employees “standing around and ‘chitchatting’ about their concern that their cars would be damaged if they voted against union representation.” D.C. Circuit rejects NLRB position that talk of tire-slashing by union backer known to have “been in violent altercations in the past, and [sporting current] hand injury from a knife fight” was harmless joking [John Ross, Short Circuit on Manorcare of Kingston v. NLRB]
  • Karma stalks #FightFor15, SEIU: “Union protested by its own minimum wage organizers” [Sean G. Higgins]
  • Feds raid powerful Philadelphia construction union boss, allies [Jillian Kay Melchior, Heat Street, Philadelphia Daily News, NBC Philadelphia, earlier Melchior on role of John (“Johnny Doc”) Dougherty in enactment of city’s soda tax]
  • “A New Illegal Interview Question: How Much Did You Earn In Your Last Job?” [Evil HR Lady on just-passed Massachusetts law]
  • “You have the right to replace striking workers, right?” [Jon Hyman]
  • Hillary Clinton now hinting at increased federal control over labor markets as a centerpiece of economic policy if elected [John Cochrane]

D.C.’s fast food zoning rules

“Emergency regulations” adopted in 1985 by the District of Columbia sharply restrict where fast-food restaurants may operate, and despite an effort in 2007 to refine the definition of a fast-food place, it remains rigid: any eatery where the utensils are disposable is included, as does any in which cash is paid before the meal is handed over. Now the regulations have come to restrict the operation of popular “fast-casual” restaurants and even one-off ventures launched by noted chefs, like a barbecue sandwich place that had been slated to open in Shaw near the Convention Center. [Tim Carman, Washington Post via Scott Beyer, Forbes]

Indian Child Welfare Act symposium at Cato Unbound

I’m one of four participants in a symposium at Cato Unbound this month on the Indian Child Welfare Act. Timothy Sandefur (Goldwater Institute) writes the principal paper to which I respond; other responders include Profs. Matthew L. M. Fletcher (Michigan State) and Kristen Carpenter (Colorado). Earlier coverage of the Indian Child Welfare Act here. Excerpt from my contribution:

Someday we might want to design a legal regime that minimizes state intrusion into families, limits the discretion of faraway bureaucrats, and empowers parents by clarifying their rights. But ICWA sure isn’t it. It’s a power play that’s meant to serve the interests of one governmental actor on the scene, the tribe. It regards children and parents as tribal resources to be conscripted, and it designates a vastly overbroad group of children to grab as “Indian children,” the better to maximize resource intake.

Food and nanny state roundup

  • Has Obama administration endorsed anti-GMO campaign with new labeling law? Not really [Thomas Firey, Cato, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • United Nations anti-tobacco meeting seeks to exclude persons overly involved with tobacco production, ban list turns out to include many officials of member governments [Huffington Post UK]
  • Dumping Michigan tart cherries to comply with USDA marketing order? There must be a better way [Baylen Linnekin]
  • “I am the man, the very fat man, who waters the workers’ beer.” [Science Daily, prompting Christopher Snowdon’s recollection of that line of song]
  • Feds alone have spent $500 million chasing food-desert mirage, with “negligible” impact on health [Mac McCann, Dallas News, earlier]
  • “FDA Assigns Zero Value To Smokers Who Die Because Of Its E-Cigarette Regulations” [Jacob Sullum, more on vaping]

Mikal Watts acquitted in Gulf spill claims fraud case

“San Antonio plaintiffs’ attorney Mikal Watts was acquitted Thursday by a Mississippi federal jury of multiple fraud counts after federal prosecutors charged that he submitted the names of phony clients seeking to recover from the 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill.” Two others associated with Watts’ firm were also cleared of charges. Watts, who represented himself at the trial, had argued that he was a victim of, rather than collaborator, in the wrongful practices of others who brought potential spill claimants in as clients for his firm. “The jury found several of the defendants Watts hired in Mississippi to gather clients guilty of the fraud allegations.” [Texas Lawyer]