- Playlist: songs about eminent domain and takings, property law and the road [Robert H. Thomas, Inverse Condemnation]
- In-depth look into problems that develop when title to land is held as “heirs’ property,” leaving a dangerous collective tangle in place of individual right and duty [David Slade and Angie Jackson, Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.)]
- Dispute over remains of two dinosaurs locked in combat 66 million years ago, lately unearthed in Garfield County, Mont. and extremely valuable, hinges on whether their fossils are “minerals”; Ninth Circuit says they are under Montana law [AP via Molly Brady (“property professor dream hypo”), Murray v. BEJ Minerals]
- “Government Should Compensate Property Owners for Flood Damage It Facilitated” [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran on Cato amicus petition for certiorari in St. Bernard Parish v. United States] “Texas Court Rules Deliberate Flooding of Private Property by State Government in Wake of Hurricane Harvey can be a Taking” [Ilya Somin]
- Constituent-group politics continues to shape use of federal lands, to the detriment of its economic value [Gary Libecap, Regulation and related working paper]
- Caution, satire: Facebook parody of super-intrusive, restrictive, and meddlesome HOA [East Mountain West View Home Owners Association]
- Relatively funny, clever, and pleasant nastygram, as nastygrams go, on Netflix “Stranger Things” pop-up [BGR]
- “Taser: Can’t say our weapons killed somebody unless the autopsy says so. Also Taser: If the autopsy blames our weapon, we might sue you.” [@bradheath on Jason Szep, Tim Reid, and Peter Eisler Reuters investigation]
- Fourth Circuit asked to overturn forfeiture of antiquarian coins seized under “cultural patrimony” law [Peter Tompa, Antique Coin Collectors Guild]
- Videos from April conference at Scalia/George Mason on due process and the administrative state: Neomi Rao, Philip Hamburger, Gary Lawson, Ronald Cass, Jonathan Adler, Hon. Doug Ginsburg, and many other stars;
- Nice try, censorship fans: study from Stanton Glantz et al. tries to link teen smoking to movie depictions of smoking, resulting in epic fail [Brad Rodu]
- Facebook weeds out a million accounts a day, some in error. Takedown laws will lift false positive rate [Mike Masnick]
- “The river can’t stop people from throwing hooks in it, which seems like an important right for a legal person to have” [Lowering the Bar] “Just days after New Zealand declared the Whanganui River a legal person, the world’s population of river people (not people who live on the river, but rivers who are people) tripled, when a court in India waved its judicial wand and transformed the Ganges and Yamuna rivers” [same, follow-up]
- One way to make Vladimir Putin unhappy: support legal fracking in U.S. [Eric Roston, Bloomberg]
- Stadium subsidies for the Patagonia set: outdoor gear makers push federal Western land grabs [Terry Anderson]
- Washington Post account of Wyoming rancher Clean Water case might deserve a Pinocchio or two of its own [Jonathan Wood]
- “When should the federal government own land?” [Tyler Cowen]
- Missed this 2014 Los Angeles Times investigation into the story behind a federal raid on pot-hunters in the rural Southwest [“A Sting in the Desert“]
- Coming up this Friday and Saturday Mar. 27-28 in D.C., Federalist Society holds star-filled conference on Treaties and National Sovereignty at George Washington University [Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz]
- Trade agreements are being promoted as extending progressive labor and environmental policies around the globe, hmmm [Simon Lester, related] Courts in European nations urged to use Charter to promote affirmative welfare rights, strike down laws liberalizing labor markets [Council of Europe]
- “Croatian-Serb war offenses litigated under Illinois and Virginia conversion/trespass tort law” [Volokh]
- “Did the Supreme Court Implicitly Reverse Kiobel’s Corporate Liability Holding?” [Julian Ku]
- “There Is No National Home for Art” (Kwame Anthony Appiah on cultural patrimony and antiquities repatriation, NYT “Room for Debate”, related Ku on Elgin Marbles; my take on the collectible-coin angle; earlier here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, etc.]
- British government alleges human rights lawyers continued to pursue claims against British military over Iraq even after evidence of probable falsity emerged [Telegraph]
- Treaties the Senate has blocked tend to be aspirational fantasies [Ted Bromund]
One of the problems with shipping all great antiquities and works of historical significance back to their lands of origin, as some demand, is becoming clearer in the Middle East, as Islamic State authorities destroy the Assyrian heritage site at Nimrud along with thousands of rare texts from the Mosul library and seemingly whatever other remains of pre-Solomonic and religiously disapproved civilizations their bulldozers and torches can reach. [New York Times]
Gordon VanGilder, a 72 year old retired schoolteacher, now faces felony charges for possessing a 225 year old flintlock pistol, which he says he told a sheriff’s deputy about during a routine traffic stop. [NRA YouTube] More: Charles Cooke, Scott Greenfield (current New Jersey law specifically prohibits possession of antique firearms, a provision one lawmaker there would like to fix). For more on the tender mercies of New Jersey gun control laws, see our coverage of the Brian Aitken case.
Bad enough for Congress to meddle in adoptions in hopes of helping out Indian tribes. But…burials? My new guest column at Jurist examines the first-of-its-kind lawsuit by which some descendants of Native American sports great Jim Thorpe are trying to use the law to require the borough of Jim Thorpe, Pa. to yield up his remains for re-interment in Oklahoma. It concludes:
In a nation where people regularly fall in love across ethnic lines, laws that assign rights differentially to some members of families based on descent or tribal affiliation are especially hard to justify under US Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. … Say what you will about the Third Circuit’s reasoning, it at least postpones the day when tribal enmities extend into our very cemeteries, and even the dead cannot escape counting based on race.
- Department of surreal headlines: “Detroit Mayor’s Office Disappointed With UN’s Stance on Water Shutoffs” [MLive.com via Deadline Detroit, earlier on customers who don’t pay Detroit water bills]
- “When Mr. Bond first impregnated Mrs. Bond’s best friend, the international Chemical Weapons Convention was probably the furthest thing from his mind.” [Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Cato Supreme Court Review (PDF), earlier on Bond v. U.S.]
- A case against including investor/state protections in trade negotiations [Daniel Ikenson, Cato] Issue leading leftists, libertarians separately to discover merits of sovereigntism? [Julian Ku, Opinio Juris]
- Survey of rapidly changing field of transnational antiquities law [ABA Journal]
- Canada, like U.S., gets periodic U.N. tongue-lashing over its relations with Indian tribes/native peoples [Kathryn Fort, ConcurOp]
- With U.S. isolated on firearms issues, U.N.’s contemplated Programme of Action on Small Arms not quite so innocuous [Ted Bromund, more, earlier here, here, here, and here]
- “The U.S. government should be careful about entering into new international agreements and treaties precisely because international laws do have legal force.” [Jason Sorens, Pileus]
Now this is welcome: the New York Times (via Ronald Bailey) has a column by George Johnson jumping off from the question of whether locating a giant telescope on Mauna Kea would unfairly desecrate the religious and ancestral heritage of (some) native Hawaiians. Johnson notes:
While biblical creationists opposing the teaching of evolution have been turned back in case after case, American Indian tribes have succeeded in using their own religious beliefs and a federal law called the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act to empty archaeological museums of ancestral bones — including ones so ancient that they have no demonstrable connection to the tribe demanding their reburial. The most radical among them refuse to bow to a science they don’t consider their own. A few even share a disbelief in evolution, professing to take literally old myths in which the first people crawled out of a hole in the ground.
In this turn back toward the dark ages, it is not just skeletal remains that are being surrendered. Under the federal law, many ceremonial artifacts are also up for grabs. While some archaeologists lament the loss of scientific information, Indian creationism is tolerated out of a sense of guilt over past wrongdoings.
Even some scientists bow and go along in the spirit of reparations, while admitting the loss to human inquiry and future knowledge. Earlier on NAGPRA and the Kennewick Man controversy here, here, etc.
The U.S. government was intent on “repatriating” the ancient remains of Kennewick Man for burial to Indian tribes in compliance with the perceived spirit of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), though any relation between those remains and current tribes is at best notional. The U.S. Department of Justice and Army Corps of Engineers had thrown their full weight on the side of immediate burial, even threatening criminal charges against individual scientists who insisted on litigating the case. “If it weren’t for a harrowing round of panicky last-minute maneuvering worthy of a legal thriller, the remains might have been buried and lost to science forever.” Fortunately, scientists won in the end, leaving the “most important human skeleton ever found in North America” finally free to disclose his secrets. [Smithsonian, earlier]
P.S. Welcome Popehat readers (“Science in the Hands of Angry Liberal Arts Majors”). And as several commenters point out, my summary above overstates the extent to which scientists actually prevailed, since the U.S. government continues to fight tenaciously to prevent further testing of the remains, and reportedly dumped a thousand tons of fill on the discovery site early on in case it hadn’t made its stance clear.