The Massachusetts attorney general is now running for governor of the state after losing a Senate run three and a half years ago, so this makes a good occasion to revamp a 2010 post slightly so as to remind readers of Coakley’s central role in the Amirault travesty of justice, described so well by Dorothy Rabinowitz here. Earlier on the Amirault case here and here; on Coakley’s prosecutorial record here. More: John Stossel and (via Memeorandum): Bronwyn’s Harbor, No Quarter (citing views of Jeralyn Merritt/TalkLeft); Dan McLaughlin, RedState; Dan Riehl (Woodward, Souza cases). Yet more: on Coakley’s offer to a deal to one defendant on condition that the experienced defense counsel handling the deal agree not to represent a second defendant in future, see Scott Greenfield (characterizing the move as “a deliberate effort to undermine the constitutional right to counsel”), Kenneth Anderson/Volokh, and John Steele/Legal Ethics Forum. In 2010 we wondered whether Coakley’s Senate-race nosedive under critical public and press scrutiny amounted to the first time a Massachusetts prosecutor had paid a price for being wrong in the Amirault episode.
The Massachusetts attorney general and Senate candidate poses as the guardian of justice and civil liberties. Dorothy Rabinowitz knows better (earlier on the Amirault case here and here; on Coakley’s prosecutorial record here).
More (via Memeorandum): Bronwyn’s Harbor, No Quarter (citing views of Jeralyn Merritt/TalkLeft and Arthur Leonard); Dan McLaughlin, RedState; Dan Riehl (Woodward, Souza cases). Yet more: on Coakley’s offer to a deal to one defendant on condition that the experienced defense counsel handling the deal agree not to represent a second defendant in future, see Scott Greenfield (characterizing the move as “a deliberate effort to undermine the constitutional right to counsel”), Kenneth Anderson/Volokh, and John Steele/Legal Ethics Forum.
Trial lawyer and inveterate Litigation Lobby booster Bruce Braley lost his Iowa senate bid (“He comes across as arrogant, and I think it’s because he is,” said an unnamed Democratic official.) Sen. Mark Pryor, chief Senate handler of the awful CPSIA law, lost big.
Massachusetts voters again rejected Martha Coakley, whose prosecutorial decisions we have found so hard to square with the interests of justice. The Wisconsin Blue Fist school of thought, which sees organized government employees as the natural and truly legitimate governing class, met with a rebuff from voters not only in Wisconsin itself but in neighboring Illinois (where Gov. Quinn, of Harris v. Quinn fame, went down to defeat) and elsewhere. Colorado voters rejected GMO labeling, while a similar Oregon bill was trailing narrowly this morning but not with enough votes to call.
California voters rejected Prop 46, to raise MICRA medical liability limits, require database use and impose drug testing of doctors, by a 67-33 margin, and also rejected Prop 45, intensifying insurance regulation, by a 60-40 margin (earlier).
I’ve written a lot at my Free State Notes blog about the governor’s race in my own state of Maryland, and unlike most others was not surprised at Larry Hogan’s stunning upset victory. The politics category there includes my letter to Washington Post-reading independents and moderates about why they should feel comfortable electing Hogan as a balance to the state’s heavily Democratic legislature, as well as my parody song about what I thought a revealing gaffe by Hogan’s opponent, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown.
- Weekly Standard runs my parody song about the local governor’s race, “Show Me the Way to Frederickstown, or, Lost in Maryland“; Update: Here’s Lauren Weiner’s rendition, to the tune of “Sweet Betsy from Pike.” Freelance writer Lauren Weiner has lived in Baltimore since 1992. [improved YouTube link with video]
- Also on Maryland governor’s race: it’s not every day a GOP challenger blames a Democratic incumbent for issuing too few pardons [Radley Balko; more on clemency]
- Harry Reid forces are latest to demagogue Stand Your Ground laws and role of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), but Glenn Kessler calls them on it with Four Pinocchios [Washington Post “Fact Checker”]
- Enough non-citizens vote illegally “that their participation can change the outcome of close races.” [Jesse Richman and David Earnest, Washington Post Monkey Cage; a response]
- State attorney general offices are now politicized and targets of lobbying, and why should we be surprised at that given all the power they’ve grabbed for themselves as business regulators in recent years? [David Boaz, Cato] Hot state-AG races this year include Wisconsin, Nevada, New Mexico, Arkansas [John Fund]
- Two views on Alabama proposed Amendment One, curbing use of foreign law: Paul Horwitz (adds nothing to Alabama constitution not already there), Quin Hillyer (insurance against bad judicial decisionmaking);
- More about the Greg Abbott tree-fall settlement called into question by opponent Wendy Davis [Hugh Kelly, TLR, earlier]
- Long Island legislator withdraws from State Senate race after charges of high-dollar law-firm misconduct [Newsday]
- Defaulted mortgages: “Coakley lawsuit has ties to key backer’s interests” [Boston Globe via Funnell] Flashback: Radley Balko in 2010 on Martha Coakley’s awful prosecutorial record (up to that point) [Politico; related, Harvey Silverglate on prosecutors who run for higher office; earlier]
- California may lead in number of arrested lawmaker scandals but jealous New York vows to catch up [NYDN]
- Will voters in hotly contested Massachusetts primary remember Martha Coakley’s central role in the Amirault travesty of justice?
- “State of unions: Illinois’ big unionized workforce has become a big campaign issue” [Peoria Journal Star] Teachers’ union top priority: unseat GOP governors [Politico]
- In which I’m quoted saying relatively favorable things about left-leaning New York gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout (though “enjoyed interacting with” is a long way from “would consider voting for”) [Capital New York]
- Meet the trial-lawyer-driven group behind the Rick Perry indictment [Texas Tribune; more of what’s up in Texas]
- Senate incumbents Reid, Pryor, and Durbin and hopeful Bruce Braley among recipients of asbestos law firm money [MCR, Legal NewsLine] Key trial lawyer ally Durbin has slipped in polls [Chicago Sun-Times]
- Montana Democrats’ candidate for U.S. Senate looking a little Wobbly [Lachlan Markay, Free Beacon; A. Barton Hinkle, Richmond Times-Dispatch; #wobblydem]
- As Brooklyn changes, so do its juries: “more sophisticated people… they don’t believe [plaintiffs] should be awarded millions of dollars for nothing.” [NY Post quoting plaintiff’s lawyer Charen Kim]
- Richard Epstein: Massachusetts buffer zone statute “should have been upheld, not struck down” [Hoover Institution, earlier on McCullen v. Coakley, my related comment]
- “Runners” as in client-chasing for injury work: “Arkansas AG Files Suit Against Chiropractic ‘Runners'” [AP]
- Fox, henhouse: 2012 law says local transit agencies must sit on boards helping set their own funding [Randal O’Toole, Cato]
- No-good, terrible, really bad idea: occupational licensure for software professionals [Ira Stoll]
- More proliferation of legally required video surveillance [Volokh; guns, cellphone sales]
- How do you expect the IRS to back up headquarters emails when we throttle its IT budget down to a mere $2.4 billion? [Chris Edwards, Cato]
What a morning at the Supreme Court. Unanimous free-speech ruling that Massachusetts went too far with a law creating a 35-foot zone banning protests on public streets outside abortion clinics. [McCullen v. Coakley, SCOTUSBlog case page] Unanimous 9-0 ruling rebuking the Obama administration’s broad claims of recess appointment power, though the Court split 5-4 on rationale. [NLRB v. Noel Canning et al, SCOTUSBlog case page]
This now makes about a dozen cases in which the Supreme Court has *unanimously* rejected Obama administration claims of broad government power. In case after case, the Department of Justice can’t even win the votes of the President’s own appointees, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. This is an extraordinary rebuke.
In McCullen v. Coakley, the Supreme Court will reconsider its 2000 decision in Hill v. Colorado, which upheld a law prohibiting (among other things) leafleting and some other forms of peaceful protest within 100 feet of an abortion facility. (Massachusetts in 2007 passed a similar law which is now under challenge.) Noted civil libertarian Floyd Abrams, writing in the WSJ, sees the case as a straightforward one of supporting free speech for a position with which he happens to disagree. But the ACLU, Abrams notes, has changed its position between the earlier case and this one, and in a speech-unfriendly direction:
In a friend-of-the-court brief in Hill, the ACLU argued that because the Colorado statute “burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to accomplish the state’s goal,” the statute was facially unconstitutional. When the 2007 statute was proposed in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts ACLU opposed it, stating that “[i]f the message is unwelcome, as it often will be outside abortion clinics, the constitutionally appropriate response in a public forum is for the listener to walk away.”
But now that McCullen has reached the Supreme Court, both ACLU groups have switched sides. Their position, their brief states, has “evolved over time” and the Massachusetts law is, after all, constitutional on its face. Of course, the First Amendment has not changed in the 14 years between the filing of the ACLU briefs in Hill and McCullen; the ACLU has.
The old ACLU got it right.
- On Oklahoma ballot: grossly overbroad measure to ban use of foreign law [Atlantic Wire, Transplanted Lawyer, earlier Volokh]
- Michigan race: “Dems cross the line with bigoted Supreme Court ad” [Stephen Henderson, Freep; earlier on attacks on Justice Robert Young]
- Jacob Sullum is another non-fan of Andrew Cuomo’s record;
- What was the exact nature of that Vancouver fundraiser so many Senate hopefuls attended? Carter Wood wishes he could add a footnote to an already strong column by George Will on the Linda McMahon-Richard Blumenthal Senate race in Connecticut;
- Speaking of which, Will’s latest election roundup column is just out, while Nate Silver at the NYT’s Five Thirty Eight blog offers an outstanding hour-by-hour election-night guide;
- Iowa poll shows former AAJ/ATLA president Roxanne Conlin, of SomePeopleJustNeedToBeSued.com fame, trailing far behind in bid to unseat Sen. Chuck Grassley [WHO-TV via Carter Wood’s PoL election roundup;
- Trial lawyers pour cash into California insurance commissioner race [CJAC]
- Latest effort by New York Times to lionize activist AGs as “next Eliot Spitzers” recalls earlier Times pieces written to same formula, in the most amusing of which it lionized as the next Spitzer Ohio’s since-disgraced Marc Dann. Yet (the shaky electoral performance of such Times favorites as Massachusetts’ Martha Coakley aside) there’s reason to suspect voters this year will return a roster of AGs that’s less inclined toward business-bashing, not more [Jack Fowler at NRO].
- Government a threat to liberty? Doesn’t just depend on whether “our” team’s in charge [Gene Healy, Examiner]
- “Court Vacates $99,000 Fee to Counsel for Plaintiff Who Won $650” [NJLJ]
- Libel-suit target: “Author Simon Singh Puts Up a Fight in the War on Science” [Wired]
- No, they weren’t “worst”: RIP injury lawyer who hyped “10 Worst Toys” list each Christmas [WSJ Law Blog]
- New credit card regulations squeeze small business [John Berlau letter in Washington Post]
- District attorney’s case intake desk should screen out many unjust prosecutions, but often doesn’t [Greenfield]
- AGs’ campaign to drive sex pros off Craigslist has failure built in [William Saletan, Slate; LNL; Declan McCullagh]
- “Nursing Home Company Settles $677 Million Lawsuit for $50 Million” [AP]
- “Judge accused of sexual harassment once helped women sue” [Orlando Sentinel]