- As government’s grip tightens in Turkey, Erdogan begins rounding up journalists [New York Times, Jonathan Turley on aftermath of coup attempt]
- German court fines man $2,480 for comparing state politician’s IQ to that of “a piece of toast” [Deutsche Welle]
- University of Cape Town disinvites free speech hero and Cato fellow Flemming Rose, of Danish cartoons fame, prompting letters of protest from Nadine Strossen, Floyd Abrams, Kenan Malik [John Samples]
- “If it’s perceived by the victim, then it is” — adviser to London police on online insults as hate crime [Express] “Nottinghamshire police to count wolf-whistling in street as a hate crime” [Guardian, quoting three backers and no critics of idea]
- Maybe our state AGs could offer tips on punishing wrongful advocacy: campaigners in UK want to prosecute public figures for fraud in promoting Leave side in Brexit referendum [Business Insider on “Brexit Justice” effort]
- Meanwhile, here: prominent Harvard Law professor says “rule of law” and “First Amendment” are “almost entirely without content” [David Bernstein on views of Mark Tushnet]
“We live in a nation of laws, in the same way people on “Hoarders” live in houses of cat food boxes” — David Burge on Twitter
James O’Malley looked at road deaths per 100,000 people for various counties “and compared it to the scores given by the World Justice Project on Rule of Law in 2015.” The correlation came out at -0.68, suggesting that improvements in the rule of law correlate strongly with safer road conditions, possibly mediated through better driver behavior and trust between citizens. Good rule of law conditions also correlate with increased income, but that appears to have a U-shaped effect on aggregate road fatalities: when very poor countries begin to prosper more persons can own cars and the number of accidents increases, but as countries approach affluence more is invested in safety. [CityMetric via Christopher Groskopf, Quartz, including above title]
Small banks and other regulated businesses now live at the permission of arbitrary regulators in a legal system that no longer protects individual rights. That’s the message of a letter sent to shareholders earlier this year by Frank H. Hamlin III, CEO of the small Canandaigua National Bank in upstate New York. In particular, Hamlin cites the way the office of New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman has pushed around two other upstate banks (not his) on ill-defined redlining charges based on doing too much of their lending in the suburbs. I write about it in a new post at Cato at Liberty.
I write at Cato about the accomplishments of Ida Wells (1862-1931), who after being born into slavery in Mississippi became the leading voice documenting the horrors of lynch law in late nineteenth century America, as well as a free speech heroine (a mob in Memphis attacked and destroyed her printing press). Wells is also the subject of today’s Google Doodle. And as I learned from Nicholas Johnson’s post last year at Volokh, she was a notable figure in the history of the Second Amendment as well.
As I recount at Cato at Liberty, a new report from the Equal Justice Initiative on the long history of lynching in the South, combined with a federal judge’s widely noted speech upon sentencing three men in a racially oriented Mississippi killing, can bring us to think about how far America has fallen short of the ideal of the rule of law in some periods, and how far it has come since. [& Rod Dreher]
I could find about a thousand far more sympathetic examples of folks screwed over by government land use regulations — e.g. people whose puddle in the backyard is suddenly a wetlands that they can’t build on. But for some reason Conservatives all rushed to pile on this one example. Stupid.
Only a thousand?
If you imagine that Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is some sort of constitutional conservative, Josh Blackman wants to direct your attention to the Property Clause as well as the Supremacy Clause of the (actually existing) U.S. Constitution. He also has some thoughts on the Equal Footing Doctrine (states come into the union on an equal footing to the original 13), and on the rule of law in the context of the alleged right to flout court orders. Earlier here, with many reader comments, and more from Charles C. W. Cooke.
Last week twenty-eight Democratic senators sent a letter (PDF) to Acting CPSC Chair Nancy Nord the gist of which can be summed up as, “Never mind the law we passed, start enforcing the more reasonable law we wish we’d passed”. Neat move, if somewhat at odds with the concept of the “rule of law”.
Rick Woldenberg scrutinizes the politics (with particular attention to ATVs/minibikes) and also points out something seldom brought out in press accounts: the last 23 commission votes on CPSIA have been settled by 2-0 votes, with reputedly “good” CPSC commissioner Thomas Moore (cozy with Congress, vocally pro-CPSIA, a Democrat) voting exactly the same way as Nord, the reputedly “bad” commissioner (at odds with Congress, unenthusiastic about much of CPSIA, known to be a Republican, etc.) Which particular decisions, one wonders, would have turned out differently had some new appointee been installed in the vacant third seat, as Rep. Henry Waxman is reputedly demanding as a precondition for even considering hearings on the law? Woldenberg makes the same point today in a Chicago Tribune letter to the editor, responding to an exceptionally lame April 4 editorial in that paper. More on CPSC politics: news-side WSJ; Nord responds to attack from Sen. Durbin, and requests that President Obama name permanent chair to replace her (more). (Update: the National Law Journal is out with coverage of the “furor” CPSIA has set off in Washington).
On a brighter note, AmendTheCPSIA has posted videos (slow loading) of the Capitol Hill rally two weeks ago to demand action on the law. Here’s the video of dirtbike racing dad Rod Yentzer and 6-year-old (!) son Chase:
And here’s bike dealer Steve Burnside of DSD Kawasaki in Parkersburg, West Virginia:
Also, Carol Baicker-McKee has a another excellent post on the rally, while Rick Woldenberg discusses the politics of the event. Earlier rally coverage here.
Public domain image: Yankee Mother Goose (1902), illustrator Ella S. Brison, courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.
I’ve got a new piece just up at City Journal on last week’s occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago, led by a union on the left fringe of the American labor movement. The action ended after six days with the capitulation of Bank of America and Chase under intense political pressure. Earlier coverage here. A few points:
- You’d have had trouble guessing from a lot of the coverage, but it’s far from clear that the window factory owners owed any severance at all under the terms of the federal WARN (plant-closings) act. And it’s abundantly clear that the actual targets of the protest, the two banks, owed nothing.
- The whole point of this sort of illegal action is to resolve by force a dispute that would otherwise be consigned to the ordinary processes of law — put differently, to make sure the action’s targets never get their right to a day in court to put forth their (quite possibly meritorious) defense. When Chicago and Illinois officials jumped in to arm-twist the targets into settling, they endorsed this way of resolving disputes. That may come as little surprise given the reputation of Chicago governance. But why should anyone feel secure in locating a politically sensitive business in that city (or state) from now on?
- Among those who either cheered the illegality or viewed it with complacency are not only high public officials but law professors, commentators and leaders of the legal profession. Indeed, President-elect (and former law professor) Barack Obama vocally backed the union’s cause at a press conference while pointedly saying not a word about its unlawfulness of its actions. Should we ever again take seriously the rumblings of any of these parties about the all-importance of the rule of law?
- Some in the media, like Boston Globe columnist James Carroll, applauded the illegal action and left-leaning Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson called for more of the same: “Barack Obama means to build a more equitable nation, but it would help him in that task if more workers sat down”. Does Obama agree?
(cross-posted from Point of Law).