- Progressive law school opinion has never made its peace with Milliken v. Bradley, which is another reason not to be surprised that the coming campaign cycle might relitigate the whole school busing issue [Em Steck and Andrew Kaczynski, CNN on 1975 Elizabeth Warren article]
- Irony? School “anti-bullying specialist” seems to have bullied students over officially disapproved expression [Robby Soave, Reason; Lacey Township, N.J. students suspended over off-campus Snapchat]
- How Abbott and other New Jersey school finance rulings wound up plunging the state deep in debt [Steven Malanga, City Journal; earlier here and at Cato on New Jersey and more generally on school finance litigation including here, here (Kansas, etc.) and at Cato (Colorado)]
- “Pennsylvania School District Warns Parents They Could Lose Kids Over Unpaid School Lunches” [AP/CBS Philadelphia]
- “Educational Freedom, Teacher Sickouts, and Bloated Higher Ed” [Cato Daily Podcast with Corey DeAngelis, Neal McCluskey, and Caleb Brown]
- No shock, Sherlock: New York law suspending statute of limitations for suing schools results in higher insurance premiums for public districts [New York Post]
“We’re not interested in charging children or putting them in jail or fining them,” says a campaigner for Maryland’s “cyber-bullying” law, “Grace’s Law 2.0,” which is drafted to do exactly those things. “What we want to do is change the behavior so the internet is more kind,” says the same campaigner regarding the new law, which would encourage online users to turn each other in for potential 10-year prison terms over single instances of certain kinds of malicious, abusive speech, and is being billed as going farther than any other law in the country, as well as farther than the earlier Maryland law passed in 2013.
Bruce DePuyt at Maryland Matters reports that Senate Judiciary Chair Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County):
said the 2013 law required that abusive comments be sent to the individual and be part of a pattern of conduct. With the rise of social media, that proved to be too high a hurdle, he said.
Under the new law, “a single significant act can land you in trouble,” he told reporters.
Due credit to the ACLU of Maryland, which called out this dangerous venture in speech regulation:
Toni Holness, the group’s public policy director, said in February that the bill fails to adequately define what constitutes a “true threat.”
Holness also was concerned about other words in the bill that had not been defined: encourage, provoke, sexual information, intimidating, tormenting.
“There’s way too much prosecutorial discretion in these terms that are not defined,” she said.
I criticized the bill in February and noted language from Zirkin suggesting that the Court of Appeals, as distinct from the legislature, would sort out its constitutionality. Before that, I criticized the 2015 law as itself going too far (more). DePuyt reports that Zirkin may approach U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) about introducing a similar bill on the federal level. Let’s hope Raskin says no to that bad idea. [cross-posted from Free State Notes; see also earlier]
Related: an Ohio student has been arrested and faces expulsion over a Twitter account on which he made vicious comments about female classmates; whatever view the law takes of the prospective expulsion of 18-year-old Mehros Nassersharifi by Perrysburg High School, his arrest, on charges of telecommunications harassment, may overstep the First Amendment [NBC24, Hans Bader, Eugene Volokh (reworded to reflect fuller accounts which make clear that the student’s offensive speech went further than simply “rating” of classmates)]
- We’ll pass the bill first, and let the courts tell us later whether it violates the First Amendment. That’s not how it’s supposed to work [my Free State Notes on a Maryland “cyberbullying” bill]
- Local laws requiring government contractors to disclose/disclaim ties to the anti-Israel BDS movement have rightly come under criticism. Will that spill over to a constitutionally dubious new Los Angeles ordinance requiring contractors to disclose ties with an advocacy group devoted to a different issue, the NRA? [Eugene Volokh]
- “Lust on Trial,” new book by Amy Werbel on celebrated vice crusader Anthony Comstock [Kurt Conklin with Alex Joseph, Hue (Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC); podcasts at FIRE with Nico Perrino and ABA Journal with Lee Rawles]
- “The Rushdie affair became a template for global intellectual terrorism” from Paris and Copenhagen to Garland, Tex.; in a different way, it also foreshadowed the far pettier heresy hunts and sanctity trials of callout culture [Jonathan Rauch]
- $250 million libel suits as a fantasy way to own the libs? In real life meanwhile big-ticket libel suits are used to silence conservatives [Competitive Enterprise Institute press release (leading media orgs including RCFP, SPJ, ASNE support rehearing of D.C. court ruling favorable toward Michael Mann defamation action), NR editors, Jack Fowler] “The media’s Covington coverage was appalling, but Nick Sandman’s libel lawsuit is not the answer” [Robby Soave, Irina Manta] Another part of the forest: Justice Clarence Thomas criticizes New York Times v. Sullivan [Will Baude, Cass Sunstein, Ramesh Ponnuru]
- “A new documentary showcased by PBS presents Montana as a success story of campaign finance reform and Wisconsin’s John Doe investigations as a failure.” But “Dark Money” has some omissions [Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown and Steve Klein of the Pillar of Law Institute]
An earlier cyberbullying bill in New York was struck down by the state’s highest court as in violation of the First Amendment, and now a new version… well, let’s just say that it has free speech problems too, which don’t get conjured away just because a person named in and distressed by speech is a minor [Eugene Volokh, Eric Turkewitz first post with explanatory followup, Scott Greenfield first and second posts, earlier]
- “Conviction Overturned In Case Of Rutgers Student Whose Roommate Committed Suicide After Being Secretly Filmed” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt; earlier on Dharun Ravi and the Tyler Clementi case generally]
- Report from Denver: “Threat of Lawsuits Crimps Condo Developments” [Chris Kirkham, WSJ]
- “California bans Civil War painting from county fair because it shows Confederate flag. Artist now suing the state.” [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog; Ken White, Popehat]
- Don’t make housing discrimination law a money tree for municipal government plaintiffs [Thaya Brook Knight and Ilya Shapiro on Cato amicus brief in Supreme Court case of Bank of America v. City of Miami; earlier on municipal suits against banks here, here, here, etc.]
- Federal court: bus company not responsible for what happened to its passenger after she alit in D.C.’s Union Station [Reyen v. Jones Lang Lasalle and Megabus]
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and eight GOP colleagues co-sponsor bill to transfer $490 million to United Mine Workers pension fund [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, WSJ]
The North Carolina Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional the state’s recently enacted so-called cyberbullying ban [Scott Greenfield] The court noted that the “statute criminalizes posting online ‘private, personal, or sexual information pertaining to a minor'” even though “these terms are not defined by the statute.” And the definition urged by the state would restrict a potentially wide range of discussion of “personal… information pertaining to a minor,” at least when proceeding from prohibited “intent to intimidate or torment.”
Earlier, New York’s highest court said the similar law in that state could not pass First Amendment muster. And a Eugene Volokh amicus brief challenges Maryland’s cyberbullying law, which I criticized at the time of its passage three years ago.
Someone needs better advice about the First Amendment, and quickly: “Social media posts, sexually explicit or otherwise, that cause someone’s online embarrassment or insult, would become crimes under a set of bills being advanced by Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.” One of the bills “would target a wide range of social media activity that makes people ‘feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.'” so long as it had been “made with the intent to cause emotional distress and be expected to cause distress in a ‘reasonable person.'” While previous “cyber-bullying” legislation required a pattern of conduct, “someone could be prosecuted under the new Kilmartin bill for a single post if at least two others pile on with ‘separate non-continuous acts of unconsented contact” with the victim.'” — meaning that the trigger for jail time over speech could be the actions of other persons. [Providence Journal] Two years ago the New York high court struck down an overbroad ban on so-called cyber-bullying.
- 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]
- Has it gotten too easy to breach the ordinary protections of academic freedom by charging that research is unethical? [Alice Dreger, Retraction Watch; The Guardian with more on complaints against University of Queensland economist over Brisbane, Australia bus study]
- “Good reformist energy in NYC to decriminalize student misbehavior. Big, unreported obstacle? School security guards are all NYPD personnel.” [Chase Madar on Twitter]
- “What is Obama’s big idea regarding day care? Well, to make it even more expensive” [Nick Gillespie citing Abby Schachter]
- “Why no one, but no one, trusts a campus sexual assault proceeding.” [Judith Shulevitz; Volokh (16 Penn Law profs)] Remarkable story of student investigated because he reminded woman of man who had attacked her thousands of miles away [Janet Halley/Harvard Law Review, see text between footnotes 23 and 24 near end, but interesting throughout] Two views of new advocacy film The Hunting Ground [David Edelstein, New York; Lizzie Crocker, Daily Beast]
- We never followed up at the time on what happened in the 2008 Billy Wolfe bullying story out of Fayetteville, Ark., but suffice it to say it’s not flattering to New York Times coverage [Eighth Circuit 2011 opinion; earlier here, here, and here]
- Quaker schools in United Kingdom resist mandate that all schools teach “fundamental British values” [Guardian] Non-Oxbridge universities to be brought into line rather sharply on teach-against-terror agenda [Chris Bertram, Crooked Timber]
- How does your pension compare? “Nearly 5,000 [New York] teachers cashing in on six-figure pensions” [New York Post]
- Illinois school district warns parents that in doing investigations under new cyber-bullying law it may require students to hand over their Facebook passwords [Vice Motherboard; earlier on “cyber-bullying”]
- Powerful, from Christina Hoff Sommers: how a shoddy NPR / Center for Public Integrity campus-rape study fueled legal fury of Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division [The Daily Beast; more, Bader] Nancy Gertner, retired federal judge and prominent progressive voice, on due process for college accused [American Prospect] Questions for New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [KC Johnson, Minding the Campus]
- Smith College: “the word crazy was censored from the transcript, replaced with the term ‘ableist slur.'” [Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe]
- “Community College Courtesy of the Federal Taxpayer? No Thanks” [Neal McCluskey, Arnold Kling]
- “Families Of Two Newtown Victims Sue Town And School Board” [CBS Connecticut via Skenazy; recently on suits against gun businesses]
- More coverage of open records requests as way to go after ideologically disliked professors [Inside Higher Ed, our take last month]
- Washington Post piece went viral, but it’s dead wrong: “No, A Majority of US Public School Students are Not In Poverty” [Alex Tabarrok] Look, a not-yet-published paper that claims to confirm something many of us want dearly to believe about school finance. But will it have the staying power of Prof. Hanushek’s? [WaPo “WonkBlog”]