- Unfounded prosecution of Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropped [Austin American-Statesman, Eugene Volokh, earlier]
- Mens rea: “The American Civil Liberties Union has discovered yet another civil liberty it isn’t interested in defending” [Robby Soave/Reason, Scott Greenfield]
- Speaking of lack of mens rea: accidentally damaging a lamp in a federal government building in D.C. could send you to jail for 6 months [40 USC §8103(b)(4) (more) via @CrimeADay]
- North Carolina cyberbullying statute criminalizes posting “personal… information pertaining to a minor” with “intent to intimidate or torment.” Constitutional? [Eugene Volokh]
- Even as doubts mount about the science behind shaken-baby prosecutions, convictions continue [Kelsi Loos, Frederick News-Post; Maryland dad gets 20-year sentence; earlier here, etc.]
- Like Clinton, Bernie Sanders in 1990s backed three-strikes, longer sentences, funds for prison expansion [Mitchell Blatt, The Federalist]
- “Most of the crime lab scandals… have occurred at crime labs that were already accredited.” [Radley Balko]
- Libertarians warned about this: New Jersey’s broad “anti-bullying” law used to silence 15 year old student’s political tweets [Robby Soave, Reason]
- “New proposal would put armed, retired cops in New Jersey schools” [NJ.com]
- Chapters ostensibly agreed, though their leeway to refuse not clear: “University of Alabama quietly testing fraternity brothers for drugs” [Al.com]
- About time Congress noticed: Sen. James Lankford asking questions about Department of Education’s Dear Colleague letter [FIRE]
- Schools vigilant against danger of grandparents reading aloud to class without background checks [Lenore Skenazy]
- No helicopters in sight: German preschool/kindergartens send kids as young as three to camp in woods [WSJ]
- Los Angeles and New York City school officials got same anonymous threat, but only L.A. closed schools [Ann Althouse]
Was the L.A. Times’s reporting manipulated in hopes of helping federal prosecutors win a case? If so, the effort sure backfired [Ken at Popehat, with commentary on the “too-cozy too-credulous relationship between law enforcement and the press”] And from the Fifth Circuit, also on prosecutorial misconduct: “The online anonymous postings, whether the product of lone wolf commenters or an informal propaganda campaign, gave the prosecution a tool for public castigation of the defendants that it could not have used against them otherwise, and in so doing deprived them of a fair trial.” [ABA Journal]
- March of “cyberbullying” law continues: “New Zealand passes law making it punishable by fine or jail time for “causing emotional distress” on the Internet [The Register]
- Wisconsin John Doe prosecutors tapped email and text communications of conservative activists, also got bank records [M.D. Kittle, Wisconsin Watchdog]
- Rare instance where pro-speech, anti-harass groups agree: ICANN shouldn’t zap site-owner privacy [Online Abuse Prevention Initiative via @sarahjeong] More: Cathy Gellis, Popehat;
- “Researcher Headed To Australian Supreme Court In Attempt To Hold Google Responsible For Posts At Ripoff Reports” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]
- When you vigorously deny an accusation, do you defame the accuser as a liar? [Popehat on Bill Cosby litigation]
- “They do this because they can.” [Mark Steyn on Preet Bharara’s “prosecutocracy” and the Reason subpoena, earlier here, here, etc.]
- Remember, badspeak can be evidence of wrongthink: “[London Mayor] Boris Johnson ‘could be breaching sex discrimination laws’ for defending Sir Tim Hunt over sexism row” [Independent]
- “Court agrees that Google’s search results qualify as free speech” [Megan Geuss, ArsTechnica]
- “Manassas detective in teen sexting case sues teen’s lawyer for defamation” [Washington Post]
- Reports of SLAPP suit out of Chicago not quite as initially portrayed [Ken at Popehat]
- Compelled-speech update: Lexington, Ky. anti-bias commission orders employee training for t-shirt maker that objected to printing gay-pride messages [Kentucky.com, earlier]
- “NY high court says anti-cyberbullying law won’t pass First Amendment muster” [ABA Journal] New Arizona law against sending naked photos without subject’s consent could criminalize many sorts of speech [ACLU]
- UK scheme to muzzle nonviolent “extremists” just as horrid as it sounds, cont’d [Brendan O’Neill/Reason, earlier] Political director of U.K. Huffington Post calls for “sanctions” for press outlets that engage in “dishonest, demonizing” coverage of Muslims, immigrants, and asylum seekers [Guardian]
- SCOTUS should hear case re: right to engage in political advocacy without registering with government [Ilya Shapiro and Trevor Burrus, Cato; Vermont Right to Life Committee v. Sorrell]
- “Telling Employee He Is ‘Eligible’ For Bonus Not Enough to Create Contractual Obligation” [Chris Parkin/Daniel Schwartz; Connecticut appeals court]
- Richard Epstein on Obama’s anti-LGBT-discrimination edict for federal contractors [Hoover “Defining Ideas”]
- D.C. Circuit panel, Janice Rogers Brown writing, strikes down DC tour guide licensing scheme [Ilya Shapiro/Cato, WaPo, Orin Kerr]
- “Why Progressives Shouldn’t Support Public Workers Unions” [Dmitri Mehlhorn/Daily Beast]
- “James Sherk of Heritage on Members-Only Bargaining” [On Labor]
- As discrimination law gradually swallows all else: “Rep. Keith Ellison wants to make union organizing a civil right” [MSNBC]
- NY Senate committee gives approval to “workplace bullying” law. On thin constitutional ice? [Hans Bader/CEI, earlier]
We warned that there were First Amendment problems with the overbreadth of these legal proposals, and the New York Court of Appeals sees things the same way. [People v. Marquan M.; Volokh] Two dissenters would have cut down the scope of the law significantly and deemed the remainder constitutional, but the majority invalidated it in its entirety, whether applied to minors or persons of full legal age. We’ve earlier criticized cyber-bullying enactments and proposals in Maryland, Virginia and elsewhere.
“…whether you want one or not.” [Zenon Evans, Reason, earlier here and here] Congress mandated in 2007 via the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act — remember, laws named after victims are usually bad laws — that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, develop rules mandating such cameras in order to reduce the rate at which drivers backing up inadvertently run over persons behind them, sometimes their own infant family members. It delayed doing so, in part, because of the regulation’s exceedingly high cost — $2.7 billion by one estimate — and because the estimated ratio of lives saved to costs inflicted fell well below the agency’s own standardized threshold for action. Still, the text of the law forced its hand.
My Cato colleague Peter Van Doren, editor of Regulation, notes that “in this case, NHTSA was responding to its own analysis that determined (p. 143) that driver error is the major determinant of the effectiveness of backup assist technologies including cameras.” Former regulatory oversight director Cass Sunstein, at Bloomberg View, offers a view somewhat more sympathetic toward the regulation.
By making cars materially more expensive, the rule will make it harder for many poorer households without cars to graduate to car ownership. A new Urban Institute study by Rolf Pendall, Evelyn Blumenberg, and Casey Dawkins tends to reinforce the intuitively plausible notion that wage earners who succeed in acquiring cars have significantly better chances of making economic progress:
Housing voucher recipients with cars tended to live and remain in higher-opportunity neighborhoods — places with lower poverty rates, higher social status, stronger housing markets, and lower health risks. Cars are also associated with improved neighborhood satisfaction and better employment outcomes. Among Moving to Opportunity families, those with cars were twice as likely to find a job and four times as likely to remain employed.
Since poverty takes a toll in health and life expectancy, safety-enhancing mandates that drive up the price of cars have negative as well as positive health impacts.
From Britain: “Domestic abuse involving “emotional blackmail” – but no violence – could become a criminal offense carrying a heavy jail term under tough new measures published for the first time.” [David Barrett, Telegraph]:
“Critically, its [the draft’s] definition of abuse includes “controlling or coercive behavior” which would “encompass but is not limited to physical, financial, sexual, psychological or emotional abuse”.
“Controlling behavior” would also lead to criminal charges, including when a partner makes another person “subordinate”, “exploits their resources” or “deprives them of the means needed for independence”.
The offense would apply to abuse committed against any spouse, partner or former partner, regardless of gender.
As Pamela Stubbart notes at the Daily Caller, when based on purely psychological and emotional interactions and states of dependence, concepts like “control” and “coercion” are at best highly subjective affairs, inviting unpredictable legal application as well as he-said-she-said legal battles in the wake of breakups or other relationship failures. The measure would also threaten criminal liability for some speech (e.g., emotionally hurtful insults not involving threats of violence) that would often be included in definitions of free speech. Meanwhile, a ban on exploiting partners’ resources or denying partners financial independence threatens to throw a shadow of criminal liability over many marital and romantic arrangements long deemed unproblematic, whether or not egalitarian.
Barrett in the Telegraph notes that while the cross-party group of Members of Parliament who are introducing the bill do not speak for the Cameron administration, they have a record of some success at getting their ideas on domestic violence enacted into legislation. Offenses will carry a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.
Related: periodic proposals in state legislatures and elsewhere to ban “workplace bullying” (more) raise some of the same issues, as do enactments (like “Grace’s Law” in Maryland) endeavoring to ban “cyber-bullying.”
- Far-reaching, little-discussed new regulation: Stewart Baker on NIST rules mandating cybersecurity at private enterprises [Volokh; first, second, third, fourth posts]
- “Ominous Developments on the Internet Governance Front” [David Post]
- “The Exaggeration Of The Cyberbullying Problem Is Harming Anti-Bullying Efforts” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]
- “Will California’s New Data Breach Notification Duty Stimulate Class Action Litigation?” [Glenn Lammi, WLF]
- Some thoughts on how the law should treat domestic drones, public and private [Kenneth Anderson]
- Privacy lawsuit against Gmail could do a lot of damage [Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Matt Powers, CEI “Open Market”, parts one, two]
- Warning: more efforts ahead from legal academia to come up with stringent liability schemes for software makers [New Republic and Lawfare]