April 30 roundup

  • Because Washington knows best: “U.S. ban sought on cell phone use while driving” [Reuters, earlier here, here, here, etc.] More here; and LaHood spokesman says Reuters overstated his boss’s position.
  • Janice Brown’s Hettinga opinion: Lithwick can’t abide “starkly ideological” judging of this sort, except of course when she favors it [Root, earlier] At Yale law conclave, legal establishment works itself into hysterical froth over individual mandate case [Michael Greve] And David Bernstein again corrects some Left commentators regarding the standing of child labor under the pre-New Deal Constitution;
  • Latest antiquities battle: Feds, Sotheby’s fight over 1,000-year-old Khmer statue probably removed from Cambodia circa 1960s [VOA, Kent Davis]
  • Sebelius surprised by firestorm over religious (non-) exemption, hadn’t sought written opinions as to whether it was constitutional [Becket, Maguire] Obamanauts misread the views of many Catholics on health care mandate [Potemra, NRO]
  • “20 Years for Standing Her Ground Against a Violent Husband” [Jacob Sullum] How Trayvon Martin story moved through the press [Poynter] And Reuters’ profile of George Zimmerman is full of details one wishes reporters had brought out weeks ago;
  • Coaching accident fraud is bad enough, making off with client funds lends that extra squalid touch [NYLJ]
  • Kip Viscusi, “Does Product Liability Make Us Safer?” [Cato’s Regulation magazine, PDF]


  • The problems of product liability…

    Kip Viscusi in a must-read Regulation article (h/t OL):The first class of problems stems from the judgment biases of jurors. Because of loss aversion biases, jurors will impose excessive penalties on novel risks. Because of hindsight biases, jurors wil…

  • Walter, thank you for linking to the case of the ancient Cambodian statue “arrested” at Sotheby’s in New York. I am a researcher and historian, not a lawyer, but this unusual case raises fascinating legal questions in the areas of property and international law:

    1. The seized statue is private property belonging to a Belgian family that (as far as I can tell) was legally purchased it in UK in the 70s. Art and antiques are bought and sold worldwide every day, and at that time there were few laws governing that trade.

    2. I was surprised to learn that “Homeland Security” was the law enforcement branch charged with the seizure in this case. I thought they were “stopping terrorists.”

    3. The real twist is that this statue’s twin has been on public display for years at a prestigious American museum. The museum also holds that their item was legally acquired. Note that the museum is not yet involved in this case.

    4. Archaeologists have clearly established the original location of both statues at the ancient site of Koh Ker in modern Cambodia. No one knows who removed them, with who’s cooperation, how or when. We just know that 1000 years ago they were there…now they’re both in the US.

    5. Adding to the mix is the fact that Cambodia has one of the most complex political histories in the region. The Khmer Empire was overrun by the Siamese in the 15th century. Siam owned and controlled that part of Cambodia from then until the early 20th century. Then the French “made them an offer they couldn’t refuse” to reclaim that area for their Protectorate of Cambodia. Since independence in 1952 Cambodia has gone through a series of governments, civil conflicts and an extended period of war and foreign occupation.

    Whatever happens, the legal and moral realities of both statues are closely linked…and some innovative law must come into play.

    For your readers, I’ve added links to download PDFs of original court filings and related documents (see the bottom of the page)


  • Trey Gowdy just became my favorite member of Congress (admittedly, a very low bar) with that simple but brutally effective takedown of Sebelius. The fact that HHS couldn’t be bothered to paper the file with a legal memo makes it pretty clear that they just don’t care at all about religious liberty. In the administration’s view, it gave the first amendment the short shrift it deserved in this case. And what better illustration that the left’s offer of “free healthcare for all” comes at a steep and undisclosed cost? I wonder how single-payer would poll if the question was “would you agree to waive your first amendment rights in exchange for federally-supplied health insurance?”

  • DEM
    I don’t think that you want to see the results of that poll. With what is being taught in our educational systen these days about the Constitution, I think the results might shock you.

  • […] enacted national across-the-board ban on cellphone use. (The Newspaper; our earlier posts here and here; Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg […]

  • […] (PDF), “Traffic Safety Facts” p. 2, h/t Investor’s Business Daily; earlier here, here, etc.) More: Rob Port, SayAnythingBlog. Update: LaHood spokesman says Reuters overstated his […]