Dusting off rarely used powers held under the Class Action Fairness Act, the U.S. Department of Justice and some state attorneys general have begun to file in opposition to class action settlements. In a case against defendants Ashburn Corporation and online discount wine retailer Wines ‘Til Sold Out (WTSO), which had already drawn objections from CEI’s Ted Frank, DoJ and AGs from 19 states succeeded in getting some settlement terms rewritten, in a deal then denied final approval by the trial judge, who saw additional problems. [Alison Frankel, Reuters; Perry Cooper, Bloomberg Law and more; Nicholas Malfitano, Legal Newsline] For Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, the wine case was the ninth in which his office had intervened against a class settlement it viewed as unfair [Brnovich press release] “If your state’s AG isn’t joining the briefs of the bipartisan coalition led by Arizona defending consumers against class action abuse, you should be asking their office some tough questions.” [@tedfrank on Twitter]
“The Latest On Occupational Licensing Reform: At the federal level and in the state of Michigan, there have been encouraging moves toward market liberalization.” [Thomas A. Hemphill and Jarrett Skorup, Cato Regulation mag] Related: George Leef, Regulation (reviewing “Bottleneckers” by William Mellor and Dick M. Carpenter II). “Florida Lawmakers Are Fast-Tracking Licensing Reforms” [Boehm] “But sadly Elias Zarate is no closer to being a barber, because he still doesn’t have a high school diploma. And, yes, that matters for some reason.” [same] “Inside the Insane Battle Over Arizona’s Blow-Dry Licensing Bill” [same] “Tennessee has imposed nearly $100K in fines for unlicensed hair braiding since 2009” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal] Licensing bars on applicants with criminal histories, often related hardly at all to the risks of crime in licensed occupations, make re-entry of offenders harder [Arthur Rizer and Shoshana Weissmann, The Blaze] A Twitter thread on board certification of music therapists, which are licensed in 10 states [Shoshana Weissmann et al.] Study: “optician licensing appears to be reducing consumer welfare by raising the earnings of opticians without enhancing the quality of services delivered to consumers.” [Edward J Timmons and Anna Mills, Eastern Economic Journal]
I have myself been critical of President Donald Trump’s refusal to divulge his tax returns, but the bill advanced in the Maryland Senate purporting to make that a requirement for the next presidential ballot in Maryland is partisanship at its most inane. [Sponsors] are here attempting to (1) impose a new qualification on presidential candidates not found in either the U.S. constitution or federal law; (2) do so by means of denying ballot access in their own state, which means by restricting the choices of their own electorate; and (3) do so with the open aim of opposing a single particular candidate.
We may pause for a moment to imagine how this sort of stunt could be pulled by other partisans against other candidates, should it catch on.
No wonder California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a similar bill because of the obvious constitutional concerns.
Related: in U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton (1994), a Supreme Court divided 5-4 held that Arkansas could not add to the qualifications for election to Congress enumerated in the Constitution by disqualifying candidates who had already served a set number of terms in office; it also specifically rejected the view that a restriction on ballot access does not act as a bar to office because it leaves open the possibility of running as a write-in.
Note also that the Arizona legislature in 2011, under the influence of “birther” sentiment, passed a measure requiring presidential candidates to provide proof of citizenship in order to get on the state’s ballot. Although natural born citizenship unlike the release of tax returns is of course a genuine constitutional prerequisite for serving as president, the interference with the appropriate distribution of federal-state power, as well as the intent to target one particular candidate, namely birther target and incumbent President Obama, was evident enough that conservative Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the measure.
- Cafeteria nudge dud: questions raised on efficacy of USDA Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, launched in 2010 [Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post; Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Reason]
- “Florida Legislator Wants to Make It a Crime to Leave Your Kid in the Car for Just One Minute. But Why?” [Lenore Skenazy] “Dad Teaches Kids to Ride the Bus. But CPS Says He Can Never Leave Them Alone, Ever.” [same, Canada; more] “Court Upholds Dad’s Conviction for Making 8-Year-Old Son Walk Home Alone” [same, California]
- Judge: Arizona lawmakers not free to end Mexican-American studies program in schools if motivated by animus [Michael Kiefer, Arizona Republic]
- “Former Los Altos baseball player sues coach after being benched, claims bullying” [Hayley Munguia, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Calif.]
- Oft-told story of residential schools as ruin of Native American life might admit of some complication [Naomi Schaefer Riley, Education and Culture, reviewing Dawn Peterson, Indians in the Family: Adoption and the Politics of Antebellum Expansion]
- New York initiative on suspensions likely to make schools less safe [Max Eden, New York Post] “Another Obama Policy Betsy DeVos Should Throw Out” [Jason E. Riley, WSJ]
- Highlights from the career of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, newly pardoned by President Trump [Jon Gabriel/USA Today, Phoenix New Times thread on Twitter] Still vividly remembered: the Thomas-Arpaio raids on elected officials, judges, and journalists who’d crossed the sheriff [samples here and here from our coverage; Terry Carter, ABA Journal]
- Fran and Dan Keller, freed from Texas prisons after 21 years in Satanic abuse hysteria, finally getting official declaration of innocence (+ $3.4 million) [AP/CBS, Michael King, Austin Chronicle]
- Cops fired even for outrageous misconduct often win reinstatement, investigation finds [Washington Post] “Police Won’t Say Whether Cops Caught Fabricating Charges Were Disciplined” [Ed Krayewski, Connecticut]
- “A Rogues’ Gallery of Bad Forensics Labs” [C.J. Ciaramella]
- You can come back above ground now: NYC dismisses 644,000 stale arrest warrants for minor offenses [James C. McKinley, Jr., New York Times]
- Deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) turn U.S. Department of Justice into regulator without accountability [James Copland and Rafael Mangual, Manhattan Institute]
In Arizona, where ADA filing mills have been running wild suing small businesses, Attorney General Mark Brnovich led an effort to bring one operation to account. He explains how in this Federalist Society podcast. I have a question near the end.
An investigation by Arizona’s ABC 15 “confirmed through attorneys, sources and internal documents that Litigation Management and Financial Services is comprised of the same people behind the Valley group, Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities, or AID.” The news organization also lays its hands on contracts used by the resulting ADA mass filing operation; it seems disabled plaintiffs in whose names the suits were filed got paid $50 a pop.
- From 2014, missed earlier, and relevant to bounty-hunting and public sector incentive systems: George Leef reviews Nicholas Parrillo’s Against the Profit Motive: The Salary Revolution in American Government [Regulation]
- “Los Angeles’ Pension Problem Is Sinking The City” [Scott Beyer]
- Firefighter unions throw their weight around in Arizona local politics [Jessica Boehm, Arizona Republic]
- Public employee pay studies: “In this instance, I’d argue that casual intuition has a higher signal-to-noise ratio than does formal empiricism.” [Arnold Kling]
- Public sector employees aren’t sicker than comparable private employees but do take more illness/injury days off [Steven Malanga, City Journal]
- Mayor concedes there’s no “rational justification” for California city’s six-figure pensions, but that’s what the union got in its contract [Eric Boehm, Reason]
“Arizona Governor Doug Ducey just signed into law an amendment to the Arizonans with Disabilities Act (AzDA) designed to make it more difficult to bring lawsuits against businesses based on claims that they are not accessible to individuals with disabilities. The amendment requires potential plaintiffs to give business owners notice of alleged access violations and allows businesses 30-90 days to correct the issues before a lawsuit can be filed. It also excludes websites from the AzDA’s requirements and authorizes courts to impose sanctions on plaintiffs and their attorneys if the court finds that a lawsuit was brought for the primary purpose of obtaining a payment from the defendant business.” [Caroline Larsen, Ogletree Deakins; Maria Polletta, Arizona Republic; ICSC]
A similar bill is needed at the national level.
- Occupational licensure reforms advance in Mississippi and Arizona [Eric Boehm, Reason, first and second posts]
- I should live so long: “Will the New York Times’ Labor Reporting Ever Get the Facts Straight?” [Jim Epstein; coverage here of the NYT’s 2015 nail salon reporting embarrassment]
- Silliest claim about proposed salary-history-inquiry bans is that they would advance “transparency” in hiring [Seth Barron]
- Many states complicate offender re-entry after incarceration with needless licensing barriers and fingerprint checks [Eli Lehrer, Inside Sources]
- H.R. 1180 (“Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017”), introduced by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), would curb some overtime litigation by allowing private sector comp time under some conditions [Evil HR Lady]
- Layers of irony: “Disability Services Company to Pay $100,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit” [commission press release in EEOC v. ValleyLife (Arizona), h/t Roger Clegg]