Supreme Court roundup

  • Cato batted 12-4 in Supreme Court term that saw Kavanaugh agreeing nearly as often with Kagan as with Gorsuch [Ilya Shapiro; another roundup of the recently concluded term from Jonathan Adler]
  • Not only is Alan Dershowitz wrong about Supreme Court review of impeachment, he’s wrong in a way that practically invites constitutional crisis [Keith Whittington]
  • High court declines certiorari in challenge to Wisconsin butter grading law [Ilya Shapiro and Matt Larosiere, Mark Arnold, Husch Blackwell with update, earlier here and here]
  • “The John Marshall Legacy: A Conversation with Richard Brookhiser” [Law and Liberty audio on new biography; Federalist Society panel with Brookhiser, Hon. Kyle Duncan, Hon. Kevin Newsom, and David Rifkin, moderated by Hon. William Pryor]
  • I’m quoted on Gundy v. U.S., the improper-delegation case: “While the Court majority did not agree this time, the line-up suggests breakthrough imminent” [Nicole Russell, Washington Examiner] From some quarters on the Left, rage at the Supreme Court that got away [Ilya Shapiro at P.J. O’Rourke online magazine American Consequences]
  • “Supreme Court Returns Constitutional Patent Case to Sender” [Gregory Dolin, Cato] on Return Mail v. U.S. Postal Service, earlier on dangers when federal agencies litigate before federal agency tribunals]

Making eagle feathers legally safe for Native American worshipers

Eagle feathers have long been important in Native American religious practice, but federal law generally bans possession of eagle feathers under stringent penalties. While the law authorizes the Interior Department to exempt Native American religious use, the Department has sometimes been stinting and ungenerous in its granting of permission. Although the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of Indian worshipers in a big 2014 case under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, uncertainty continues to linger. Now advocates have petitioned for a rulemaking that would expand the exemption from federally recognized tribes only to all sincere believers including members of state-recognized tribes, and would set the exemption on a firmer legal footing for the future by taking it through the notice and comment process. [Joseph Davis, Federalist Society, earlier; End the Feather Ban advocacy page]

Police union roundup

  • New research finds Florida extension of collective bargaining rights to sheriff’s deputies correlated with increase in violent incidents when compared with municipal forces, for which law did not change [Dhammika Dharmapala, Richard H. McAdams, and John Rappaport, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy #171]
  • “This Cop Is Getting $2,500 a Month Because Killing an Unarmed Man in a Hotel Hallway Gave Him PTSD” [Scott Shackford; Mesa, Arizona] “A Portland police sergeant was fired last year for suggesting to his fellow officers that they should shoot black people for no reason. More than a year later, he’s in line to receive a $100,000 settlement from the city.” [Joe Setyon]
  • “Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner drew up a list of cops he wouldn’t put on the stand because of their history of misconduct, and the local Fraternal Order of Police union sued.” [Scott Greenfield]
  • California police groups fight to stop new law making misconduct records public [Scott Shackford, and more, and yet more]
  • “Police Officer Claims He Feared For His Life After Shooting Family’s Roomba To Death” [humor/satire, Babylon Bee]
  • Camden, N.J.’s start-over-from-scratch approach to police employment seems to be producing some favorable results [Alex Tabarrok with charts from Daniel Bier]

Crime victim can’t sue over pre-trial release algorithm

Can a victim of a later crime use New Jersey product liability law to sue a private foundation over alleged flaws in the alternative-to-bail algorithm it had developed for the state’s use? No, a federal district court has ruled, because 1) the algorithm isn’t a product, 2) proximate causation is lacking; and 3) it’s speech so the First Amendment acts as a bar [Eugene Volokh]

Organized psychiatry and activism

“Were there really more than twice as many sessions on global warming as on obsessive compulsive disorder? Three times as many on immigration as on ADHD?” Blogger and medical professional Scott Alexander at the American Psychiatric Association convention: “If you want to model the APA, you could do worse than a giant firehose that takes in pharmaceutical company money at one end, and shoots lectures about social justice out the other.” [Slate Star Codex]

International free speech roundup

  • Singapore law restricting so-called fake news “could force companies to tell the government what websites users have viewed” [Jennifer Daskal, New York Times] Ruling People’s Action Party “is notorious for its practice of bringing lawsuits against opposition members,” sometimes “for defamation upon criticizing the PAP,” while blog authors are “often pressured to register as members of political bodies if their posts touch upon national issues.” [Sally Andrews, The Diplomat]
  • Australian federal police raid national broadcaster, seize files over story exposing alleged killings of unarmed civilians by special forces [Matthew Lesh, Spiked]
  • U.K.: “Man investigated by police for retweeting transgender limerick” [Camilla Tominey and Joani Walsh, Daily Telegraph; Jack Beresford, Irish Post; Ophelia Benson followup on “Harry the Owl” case; earlier here, here, etc.]
  • From President John Adams’s time to our own, rulers around the world have used alarms over fake news as excuse for measures against political opponents [J.D. Tuccille, Reason]
  • “In a world first, Facebook to give data on hate speech suspects to French courts” [Mathieu Rosemain, Reuters, Jacob Mchangama on Twitter]
  • Michael Jackson fan clubs sue sex-abuse complainants “under a French law against the public denunciation of a dead person,” good example of why laws like that are a bad idea [AP/GlobalNews]
  • Turkish “Academics for Peace” initiative of 2016: “Of the petition’s more than 2,000 signatories, nearly 700 were put on trial and over 450 were removed from their posts by government decree or direct action from their own university.” [Brennan Cusack, New York Times]

“Scooter Accidents Leading to Big Ticket Claims at Disney Parks”

Scooters at Disney parks “have brought on a rise of civil lawsuits filed by people complaining about being run over or drivers saying they were injured.” However, because of ADA considerations — they’re an assistive mobility device — the park cannot ban them, and even attempts at lesser restrictions, such as speed limits, would quickly run into legal constraints: “any rule would likely require the U.S. Department of Justice’s approval,” according to a disability rights attorney. [Gabrielle Russon, Insurance Journal]

Nice work if you can get it, opioids-suit dept.

Salaried attorney for Texas county helps himself to contingency-fee deal representing same county in opioids litigation. Following press accounts raising the question of whether the arrangement was consistent with the Texas Local Government Code, the county amended the contract to remove its attorney’s role in the representation [David Yates, Southeast Texas Record and followup update; Brooks County, Tex.]

July 10 roundup

  • Hearse driver in HOV lane to highway patrol: you mean I can’t count the corpse as a passenger? [Michelle Lou, CNN]
  • “Caterpillar Now Going After All The Cats For Trademark Cancellations” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt, earlier]
  • Before trying to open a storefront business in San Francisco you might look to this advice from commercial real estate brokers about the city’s zoning and permit hurdles, and please quit using words like “bonkers” or “flabbergasting” [Robert Fruchtman Twitter thread]
  • “Lawyer engaged in ‘sustained campaign of unfounded litigation,’ disbarment recommendation says” [ABA Journal; Waukegan, Illinois]
  • Breaking from two other federal appeals courts, Third Circuit rules that Amazon as a platform can be sued under strict liability principles over defective items sold by third-party vendors on its site [Brendan Pierson, Reuters] Should the ruling stand, implications for online marketplaces are dire [Eric Goldman]
  • New challenges for Mathew Higbee, high volume copyright enforcement lawyer, and his clients [Paul Alan Levy, earlier]