- “An important win for property owners”: Supreme Court rules 8-0 that protected species habitat doesn’t include tracts containing no actual dusty gopher frogs and not inhabitable by them absent modification [Roger Pilon, George Will, earlier on Weyerhaeuser v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Cato Daily Podcast with Holly Fretwell and Caleb Brown (“The Frog Never Had a Chance”)]
- Proposed revision of federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) would expand definition of domestic violence to include nonviolent “verbal, emotional, economic, or technological” abuse. Vagueness only the start of the problems here [Wendy McElroy, The Hill]
- Bad ideas endorsed by the American Bar Association, part 3,972: laws requiring landlords to take Section 8 tenants [ABA Journal; earlier on “source of income discrimination” laws]
- Minneapolis “Healthy Foods Ordinance” drives up costs for convenience stores, worsens food waste, pressures ethnic grocers into Anglo formats [Christian Britschgi]
- New York Attorney General-elect Letitia (Tish) James has been zealous about suit-filing in recent years, quality another matter [Scott Greenfield]
- “Plaintiff wins $1,000 in statutory damages for technical violation of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. (Debt collector illegally used the words ‘credit bureau’ in its business name.) After plaintiff’s lawyers seek $130k in fees, district court awards them the princely sum of $0. Fifth Circuit: Just so. While fees are ordinarily mandatory, ‘special circumstances’ obtain here: The record suggests that the plaintiff colluded with her lawyers to generate this ‘outrageous’ fee-heavy lawsuit in Texas instead of in her home state of Louisiana.” [John Kenneth Ross, IJ “Short Circuit” on Davis v. Credit Bureau of the South]
- Coming Oct. 18: Cato all-day conference on Criminal Justice at the Crossroads, speakers include Hon. Jed Rakoff, Clark Neily, Jeffrey Miron, Suja Thomas, Scott Greenfield, register here or watch online;
- A bail bond agent’s letter to the editor responding to my Wall Street Journal piece on Maryland bail reform;
- Domestic violence: Ontario Court of Appeal rules cultural differences cannot justify lighter sentence in criminal cases [Toronto Star, 2015]
- “Police Union Complains That Public Got to See Them Roughing Up Utah Nurse” [Scott Shackford] “Bad Cops Will Keep Getting Rehired As Long As You Have Powerful Police Unions” [Ed Krayewski]
- “Federal Judge In Colorado Rules Sex Offender Registry Is Unconstitutional” [Lenore Skenazy, Jacob Sullum, CBS Denver, Scott Greenfield] If a young man is mentally disabled and exposes himself, should he be barred for good from a busboy job or participation in Special Olympics? [Skenazy] More: David Feige, New York Times via Greenfield on the Supreme Court’s acceptance of a fateful factoid;
- Trump to lift curbs on disposal of military surplus gear to police [Adam Bates, Jonathan Blanks, earlier]
New Illinois legislation signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner will force hairdressers, as a prerequisite of licensing, to take training in detecting evidence of domestic violence [Ann Althouse, New York Times] Earlier here (Ohio requires training in recognizing signs of human trafficking) and here (programs in at least eight states as of 2006, generally not however conscripting the beauty professionals’ participation).
More from Mark Steyn:
…in the Fifties one in 20 members of the workforce needed government permission to do his job. Now it’s one in three. The original justification for requiring a government permit to cut another person’s hair is that a salon contains potentially dangerous chemicals such as coloring products. Making the license conditional upon acing sexual-assault training courses is not just the usual Big Government expansion but the transformation of the relationship between a private business and the state.
- On California Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk: “Bill punishes cities that have transparent labor process” [Steven Greenhut, San Diego Union-Tribune]
- “Jeweler tries to sue anonymous woman who left 1-star Yelp review” [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica]
- Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has put out a new draft of First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) minus some provisions that I and others had sharply criticized. Does it fix enough? [draft; Lee letter in NYT; National Review editors, arguing on behalf of new draft]
- Local ordinances deeming properties a nuisance if they get frequent police calls pressure landlords to evict domestic violence victims [Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check on ACLU lawsuit against city of Surprise, Arizona]
- Wisconsin: “This is a slippery slope when the government starts telling parents whether or not their teenagers can get a sun tan” [AP/Dubuque, Ia., Telegraph Herald]
- “Chinese Nail Salon Owners: ‘Shame on You New York Times!'” [Jim Epstein, Reason, earlier]
- And still she won’t resign: “Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspends Attorney General Kane’s law license” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, earlier]
The separatism-minded Spanish region of Catalonia has enacted a law under which “the person accused of homophobic acts will have to prove his innocence, reversing the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.” [El Pais, TheLocal.es] The law includes fines for anti-gay occurrences in the workplace. Advocates defended the shifting of the burden of proof onto the accused to prove innocence as a “positive discrimination measure [that] is already in place for other offenses, such as domestic violence against women, in instances when it is very difficult to prove.” [VilaWeb] (& welcome Andrew Sullivan readers)
Legislature’s back in session and no citizen’s liberties are safe:
- SB 65 (Benson) would require gas station dealers to maintain operational video cameras and retain footage for 45 days [Maryland Legislative Watch]
- HB 20 (GOP Del. Cluster) would require all public schools to hire cops [Gazette, MLW]
- SB 28 (Frosh) would lower burden of proof for final domestic protective orders from “clear and convincing” to “preponderance of the evidence” [MLW, ABA] One problem with that is that orders already tag family members as presumed abusers in the absence of real evidence, are routinely used as a “tactical leverage device” in divorces, and trip up unwary targets with serious criminal penalties for trying to do things like see their kids;
- Driving while suspected of gun ownership: what unarmed Florida motorist went through at hands of Maryland law enforcement [Tampa Bay Online] 2014 session in Annapolis can hardly be worse for gun rights than 2013, so it stands to reason it’ll be better [Hendershot’s]
- State begins very aggressive experiment in hospital cost controls: “I am glad there is an experiment, but I’m also glad I live in Virginia.” [Tyler Cowen]
- Scenes from inside the failed Maryland Obamacare exchange [Baltimore Sun] Lt. Gov.: now’s not the time to audit or investigate the failed launch because that’d just distract us from it [WBAL]
- Corridors run pink as Montgomery County school cafeterias battle scourge of strawberry milk [Brian Griffiths, Baltimore Sun]
- Plus: A left-right alliance on surveillance and privacy in the legislature [my new Cato at Liberty post]
- How did Maryland same-sex marriage advocates win last year against seemingly long odds? [Stephen Richer, Purple Elephant Republicans citing Carrie Evans, Cardozo JLG; thanks to @ToddEberly as well as Carrie and Stephen for kind words]
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.”
Because the important thing is to show that lawmakers have their hearts in the right place, which means not lingering over doubts about the constitutionality of the restrictions on speech or the implied rebuke to double-jeopardy norms or the nature of the delegation of federal power to tribal courts. Who cares about that stuff anyway when there’s a message to be sent about being tough on domestic violence?
P.S. In case you wondered, the U.N. is in favor.
- Eugene Volokh on civil liberties problems with the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization [first, second posts]
- More coverage of the “N.C. vs. diet advice blogger” story we noted in February [Sara Burrows/Carolina Journal, Brian Doherty/Reason]
- A case for an administrative alternative to asbestos litigation [Michael Hiltzik, L.A. Times] More on administered compensation funds [Adam Zimmerman, Prawfs]
- Scuttle-the-boat insurance fraud scheme goes amusingly wrong [Lowering the Bar]
- “To lower prices at the pump, abolish the boutique fuel regime” [Steven Hayward, Weekly Standard]
- Supreme Court denies certiorari in NYC rent control case [Trevor Burrus, Cato; earlier here and here] But it does grant cert in Cato-backed property rights action [Ark. Fish & Game v. U.S.; Shapiro]
- New Zealand’s innovative public policies: left, right or something else? [Eric Crampton] Let’s be more like the Scandinavian countries [Tim Worstall, UK] Don’t forget loser-pays…
A new Massachusetts law that went into effect last year allows neighbors and other unrelated complainants to seek restraining orders against each other, a legal remedy formerly confined mostly to use between family members. But there’s been a surge of filings seeking the new “harassment prevention orders,” and according to the clerk of the Boston municipal court, the law has wound up empowering “every kook in the world” to “file a harassment order against their neighbor or landlord or someone who just annoys them.” Among cases: “One man took his neighbor to Malden District Court for allegedly blowing leaves on his property, and a woman in Boston Municipal Court insisted that actor Chuck Norris used high frequency radio transmissions to harass her at home.” [Boston Globe]