“5. Issue More Guidance (and Accept the Consequences) 6. Be Less Capricious and More Transparent in ‘Waiving’ Laws 7. Stop Stealing Money from Congress.” [Adam White (Hoover), Liberty and Law]
- Fuller investigation of that “reputation management” ruse of filing dummy court cases with the aim of getting critical web posts taken down [Eugene Volokh and Paul Alan Levy, Levy first and second followups, earlier here and here]
- “When Civic Participation Means Shaming A Non-Voter’s Kid” [my Cato post about an ill-considered public service announcement]
- Why America’s regulation problem is so intractable: Fortune magazine cover story [Brian O’Keefe]
- El Paso benefits from immeasurable advantage over neighboring Juarez, Mexico: rule of law and related American cultural attitudes [Alfredo Corchado, City Journal]
- Tort litigation in Pennsylvania is at its most intensive in a few counties, and residents pay the price [Peter Cameron, Scranton Times-Tribune, I’m quoted]
- California AG Kamala Harris orders BackPage execs arrested; Section 230 be damned? [TechDirt]
- “Nobody wanted to vote ‘against’ 9/11 families in an election year.” Which led to a series of absurd consequences when Congress took up Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA [Lowering the Bar, earlier here, here, etc.]
- Cute: animal rights group ambushes Orthodox with legal action on eve of Yom Kippur [Scott Greenfield citing Josh Blackman account]
- “Can U.S. Presidents Much Affect the U.S. Economy?” If so, it might be through regulatory burdens [David Henderson]
- Suit had much publicity but nearer to zero merit: Connecticut judge dismisses suit against gun manufacturer over Sandy Hook school shooting, citing PLCAA (Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act) [Hartford Courant]
- Did spate of violation-finding against local property owner proceed from retaliatory motives? “Councilman Says California City Used Code Enforcement as Payback” [Lompoc, Calif.; Matt Powers, Institute for Justice]
- Local man discusses third parties’ role in the national election [Frederick News-Post podcast, 37:09, I’m interviewed by reporters Danielle Gaines and Jeremy Bauer-Wolf; related article]
An unprecedented volume of rulemaking by the Obama administration, at a pace of one major rule every three days, will soon be followed by an even more intense binge of the “midnight” regulation seen at the end of many presidential tenures. Sam Batkins of American Action Forum and Sofie Miller of George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center, authors of two recent papers on the subject, discuss in a Federalist Society podcast moderated by Hoover’s Adam White. More: binge of Obama labor regulation will cost economy $80 billion over ten years [Ike Brannon and Sam Batkins for NAM]
How would one go about “tyrant-proofing” the U.S. presidency, after years in which many were happy to cheer the expansion of White House power so long as the office was held by someone *they* liked? Key point in Ben Wittes’s 3-part series at Lawfare: the hardest to tyrant-proof are not the extraordinary and covert national security powers held by the chief executive, but the everyday powers over the Department of Justice and regulatory agencies [parts one, two, three].
More: Neither Donald Trump nor his progressive opponents have shown themselves loyal to the principle of the rule of law [John McGinnis, Liberty and Law] Nature of the Presidency lends itself to authoritarianism and despite retrenchment under Coolidge and Ike, that’s been the trend for a century or more [Arnold Kling] And quoting William & Mary lawprof Neal Devins: “A President Trump could say, ‘I’m going to use the Obama playbook’ and go pretty far.” [Marc Fisher, Washington Post] And: Tyler Cowen on FDR, McCarthy, the politics of the 1930s-50s, and “our authoritarians” versus “their authoritarians.”
The idea is to establish an administrative agency with the power to deregulate – to identify undesirable regulations passed by other agencies and to repeal those regulations. … For example, this deregulatory agency could identify an environmental regulation that is particularly problematic and attempt to repeal it. Ultimately, the EPA might object to this action and the President would have to decide the matter. If Presidents, including pro-regulation Presidents like Obama, get to decide the issue, would the deregulatory agency have any effect?
The likely answer to the final question is “yes, at least at the margins” because every administration, from the most to the least regulatory in its instincts, is the scene of internal debates, and such an agency would probably work to strengthen the hand of regulatory skeptics even if it did not win all of its inter-administration battles.
Last year…the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education—formed in 2013 at the behest of a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and comprised of top university officials from around the country—released a stunning indictment of what it called the “jungle of red tape” produced by the Education Department. The report cited analysis from George Mason’s Mercatus Center that showed federal higher education mandates increased by 56 percent from 1997-2012.
Today, the situation is bleak: There are thousands of pages of federal regulations, and the Education Department has to release “guidance” letters to clarify vague rules once per day, on average, according to the Task Force.
Case studies from individual schools reveal just how burdensome compliance can be. One example comes from Vanderbilt University, which recently analyzed its federal compliance costs and found that they accounted for $150 million—or 11 percent—of the university’s 2013 expenditures. (Vanderbilt announced that for each student, those compliance costs “equate to approximately $11,000 in additional tuition per year.”)
Earlier here. More from reader mx in comments, who notes that the Chronicle of Higher Education has criticized the Vanderbilt number on the grounds that most of the university’s regulatory costs ($117 million of $146 million) is attributed to compliance related to research, which is not necessarily charged to students as tuition.
For decades federal agencies have been exerting their will through informal guidance documents, memoranda, “Dear Colleague” letters, rules imposed in settlement agreements with regulated entities, and so forth, all tending to dodge the constraints that the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and similar laws apply to formal creation of regulations through rulemaking. The result is to evade requirements of openness, accountability to the public and courts, and norms of consistency, preannouncement and rationality in agency policy. (See discussion of subregulatory guidance, “underground” and “stealth” regulation here, here, and here)
Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has a new paper documenting the extent of the problem and proposing a variety of ways Congress could exercise tougher oversight.
- “Days after Nooksack Judge Susan Alexander ruled against the tribal council, she was fired.” [Seattle Times, earlier]
- Alabama’s Roy Moore not a good exemplar of the rule of law, part 23 [Kyle Whitmire/AL.com, earlier]
- Failed small municipalities around St. Louis may need cleanup, yet consolidation is no cure-all either [Aaron Renn, Urbanophile]
- In doubly aggressive legal stance, Obama DoJ claims controversial North Carolina bathroom law violates federal law, threatens state with fund cutoff unless repealed pronto [Scott Shackford, Reason]
- “Vice Media Sends Cease And Desist To [Indie Rock Band] ViceVersa Over Trademark Infringement” [TechDirt]
- “Federal regulation is a hidden tax at nearly $15,000 per U.S. household each year.” [Wayne Crews, Competitive Enterprise Institute “Ten Thousand Commandments” for 2016; Ron Bailey on Mercatus study]
- Maryland: no strict liability when noise from lawful fireworks display causes cows to stampede in nearby barn [Volokh]
- Minimum wage and affordable housing: “Oregon Legislature Repeals Laws of Supply & Demand” [Randal O’Toole, Cato]
- Policy debate on international trade: Donald Trump v. Milton Friedman (more);
- Defense pounces on Garlock trust asbestos revelations [Bates White, Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and more]
- “Seven steps to ensure you become overregulated” include “#1 – Be Successful.” [Mark Jamison, Tech Policy Daily]
- We’ve restored (again) our custom 404 Not Found page, an old favorite that has made various best-of lists;
- Ink colors, flag fringe, lower case: @jjmacnab tweetstorm explores fixations of “sovereign citizen” subculture. Plus: “Oregon Occupier Files ‘Counter-Complaint’ Against Feds and/or Devil” [Lowering the Bar]