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]

“They’ve cut off our newsprint,” says opposition paper’s publisher

It’s a longstanding hazard of state-controlled economies, especially when newsprint or other essential supplies have to be brought in from abroad and are thus subject to foreign exchange or import regulations. This time the target is Nicaragua’s historic and now embattled newspaper La Prensa, published by the Chamorro family. “The government customs office has held up La Prensa’s imports of newsprint and ink since October, according to its editors. Nicaragua’s leading daily is now a skeletal eight pages – down from 36.” [Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post/Laredo Morning Times]

The ABA and “affirmative consent” in criminal law

Many colleges have adopted a principle known as “affirmative consent,” which makes it easier to infer misconduct (and thus impose expulsion or other discipline) when a record is lacking in verbal or physical evidence one way or the other as to whether a student’s sexual encounter with another student was consensual. It might seem unthinkable to apply such a standard in criminal law, where the consequences are not expulsion but imprisonment and the burdens of sex offender registration.

And yet that’s the gist of a resolution urged on the American Bar Association by its Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Read my account at Cato, and then for additional insight check out the letter from Bay Area employment lawyer Mark Schickman, who chairs that sponsoring commission, especially the portions characterizing “The Principle Behind the Opposition.” Emily Yoffe’s investigation into the oddly influential “freeze” theory is here.

It was a close-fought thing, but Monday afternoon the assembled ABA House of Delegates voted to table the resolution 256-165, killing it for this conference at least.

Land use and property roundup

  • When does a taking of land occur? The wrong answer would let the government push around owners in disputes over rails-to-trails projects [Trevor Burrus on Cato Institute amicus brief on Federal Circuit case of Caquelin v. U.S.]
  • Though the federal government can’t successfully manage the Western lands it already has, it will soon extend its grip over more. This time Republicans are responsible [Chris Edwards, Cato]
  • “Sydney’s rental prices are declining because it’s seeing a building boom. The size of Sydney’s apartment market has doubled in two years, and landlords have had to drop rents in order to get tenants.” [Scott Shackford, Reason]
  • To make NYC’s public housing towers a better place to live, throw Le Corbusier off the balcony [Howard Husock, New York Post]
  • Economist Robert H. Nelson, R.I.P. [Jane Shaw, Cato Regulation Magazine]
  • Update: Baltimore eminent domain case against owner of Preakness Stakes race and Pimlico track dropped for now, but remains as bludgeon in closet [Ilya Somin, earlier here, etc.]