Disabled rights roundup

“Ohio State seeks to trademark the word ‘The'”

“Ohio State is seeking a trademark on one of the most common words in the English language. The school, formally known as The Ohio State University, is seeking a trademark on the word ‘The’ for use on clothing and hats.” [ESPN] The rival University of Michigan responded:

Meanwhile, a small firm in Wales called Boss Brewing has changed the name of some of its products following trademark opposition and cease and desist correspondence from the German clothing maker Hugo Boss. [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]

180 CEOs proclaim loyalty to “stakeholders.” A revolution?

My new Cato piece begins:

Yesterday the Business Roundtable released a “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation” signed by 180 CEOs of major companies. It proclaims “a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” including customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and, finally, shareholders. It is being widely interpreted as a victory for anti-business campaigners and “corporate social responsibility” advocates, and perhaps also as a repudiation of the shareholder-primacy norm memorably defended (though in no way originated) by free-market economist Milton Friedman.

Read on to see why I’m skeptical that the statement can be pinned down as meaning much of anything at all — and why, if it does signify anything beyond happy talk, it will probably turn out to be a bad idea.

August 20 roundup

  • UK: “British newspapers can legitimately mock parrots and compare them to psychopaths, the press regulator has ruled, after an unsuccessful complaint that the Daily Star misrepresented the emotions of a pet bird.” [Jim Waterson, Guardian]
  • Cato scholars regularly crisscross the country talking to students. Book one (maybe me) at your campus this Fall [Cato Policy Report]
  • Local-government preemption, single-use plastics, lemonade stands, Sen. Cardin on redistricting: my new post at Free State Notes recounts my experience attending the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference;
  • Can a police officer be criminally prosecuted for refusing to risk his life to stop a school shooter? [Eugene Volokh on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School case]
  • I’m quoted on press freakout over new proposed religious liberty regs: “This is a narrowly drawn rule for a minority of federal contractors. It’s really not that radical and not that new.” [Brad Palumbo, Washington Examiner]
  • Beware proposals that would transform antitrust law into general bludgeon for avenging all sorts of grievance against big business [Glenn Lammi, WLF]

Social media as public pillory for campaign donations

“When public officials or those running for office call out the political donations of people they don’t like, what’s the goal? Is it merely to shame them?” I comment in this new Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown.

More on the controversy over Rep. Joaquin Castro’s (D-Tex.) tweet: Katie Rogers and Annie Karni, New York Times; Bradley Smith, National Review, Christian Britschgi, Reason; and earlier episodes, not exactly parallel but with some points of similarity, involving Sen. Marco Rubio (Maduro-cozying restaurant owner) and the then-campaigning Donald Trump (“They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!”).

Some costs of “red flag” laws

My letter to the editor at the Washington Post last Tuesday on red flag gun laws:

August 13, 2019

Red flag’ laws can have deadly consequences

The Aug. 9 front-page article “Results of ‘red flag’ gun laws uneven across 17 states, D.C.” quoted critics of Maryland’s “red flag” gun-confiscation law who find the law lacking on due process grounds. It might also have mentioned another kind of collateral damage done by the law this past November in its second month of operation, namely the death of 61-year-old Gary J. Willis of Glen Burnie, shot dead by Anne Arundel County police who had come to his door at 5 a.m. to present an order to confiscate his guns. Willis answered the door with a gun in his hand. He set it down but then became angry, picked up the gun, and, in an ensuing scuffle with an officer over the weapon, it went off without striking anyone. A second officer then shot Willis dead.

In the aftermath, because of confidentiality rules, neither press nor public could view the red-flag order that had set police on the fatal encounter. Defending the shooting afterward, the county’s police chief described any possible threat from Willis to others in the vaguest of terms, telling the Capital Gazette, “We don’t know what we prevented or could’ve prevented.” Family member Michele Willis, speaking to the Baltimore Sun, took a different view: “I’m just dumbfounded right now,” she said. “My uncle wouldn’t hurt anybody. … They didn’t need to do what they did.”

Walter Olson, New Market

It is true that in principle “red flag” laws can draw on the same respectable historic taproots of judicial power as, e.g., domestic violence restraining orders. [David French, National Review] One problem with that is that it’s not clear the current use of domestic restraining orders inspires confidence, due-process-wise. In two posts last week (first, second) Jacob Sullum, who also cites the work of Dave Kopel, critically examines the shortcomings of the red flag gun laws enacted so far, while California lawyer Donald Kilmer looks at his state’s existing law.

More highlights from “How To Become a Federal Criminal”

We posted last month about Mike Chase’s new book “How to Become a Federal Criminal: An Illustrated Handbook for the Aspiring Offender” (Atria Books). For a deeper dive, check out Shoshana Weissmann’s lengthy running thread with many more highlights from the book. And of course since A Crime a Day is itself a Twitter-based project, you should be sure to follow it while there (see also).

Liability roundup

  • “TriMet faulted Laing for failing to heed warning signs … and earbuds playing loud music. Laing’s attorneys argued it couldn’t be determined what volume the music was playing at at the time of impact.” [Aimee Green, Oregonian; $15 million jury verdict for woman who dashed in front of train reduced to $682,800]
  • “When Are Athletes Liable for Injuries They Cause?” [Eugene Volokh on Nixon v. Clay, Utah Supreme Court]
  • Former Alabama Sen. Luther Strange has written a law review article on local government abuse of public nuisance law in industrywide litigation [Stephen McConnell, Drug and Device Law] “California’s disturbing lead paint ruling is going interstate. Magistrate cites it in opioid MDL to support tribal nuisance claims under Montana law” [Daniel D. Fisher on Blackfeet Tribe v. Amerisource] Federal judge should have said no to Rhode Island climate change/public nuisance suit [Michael Krauss, Forbes]
  • “Will New York law change veterinary malpractice?” [Christopher J. Allen, Veterinary News]
  • Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling on class action counterclaim removal in Home Depot U.S.A. v. Jackson leaves Congress to fix what Judge Paul Niemeyer called a loophole in the Class Action Fairness Act [Diane Flannery, Trent Taylor & Drew Gann, McGuireWoods, Federalist Society teleforum with Ted Frank]
  • In Missouri, logjam for liability reform breaks at last as Gov. Mike Parson signs four pieces of legislation into law [Daily Star Journal (Warrensburg, Mo.); Beck on forum-shopping measure]