- Should an assault that does not injure its target count as non-violent? New York’s version of bail reform encounters strong pushback amid rash of street attacks [Israel Salas-Rodriguez, Khristina Narizhnaya and Laura Italiano, New York Post; Lauren Krisai, Jason Pye, and Norman Reimer, Slate; Rafael Mangual (New Jersey’s reform compare favorably); Scott Greenfield]
- “I think if they pay a small [amount of] money to us on the island, it would be better”: Vanuatu indigenous group says bungee jumping has roots in traditional land-diving ceremony [Prianka Srinivasan, ABC (Australian)]
- Thread on AirBnB liability for crime [Kate Klonick on Twitter]
- Federalist Society podcast with Andrew Grossman commenting on outcome in New York v. ExxonMobil [earlier and generally]
- “The New York Times and the sheriff do not understand the ‘stand your ground’ defense. Or they are purposefully misinterpreting it.” [Jacob Sullum, Reason; earlier on SYG]
- Claim: businesses have incentive to stop marketing and selling to perennially discontented persons, and law should restrain them from doing that [Yonathan Arbel and Roy Shapira, Vanderbilt Law Review forthcoming]
It was a hashtag prosecution, a social media campaign posing as a legal case: #ExxonKnew. And like yesterday’s media balloon become today’s litter, its deflated remains floated back down to earth last week in a New York courtroom.
In a 2003 case called Nike v. Kasky, no less a liberal authority than Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer warned that it was dangerous to freedom of speech to arm ideological adversaries with legal power to bring fraud charges against businesses based on those businesses’ public statements about contentious issues….
In his full, scathing opinion, Judge Ostrager rejected each of the state’s themes. “ExxonMobil’s public disclosures were not misleading.”…
New York’s prosecution of Exxon — a legal vendetta against a target chosen for essentially political reasons — deserves to be studied in law schools for years to come. But not for the reasons its authors once hoped.
Whole thing here.
“If a state like New York can bend and twist legal concepts like that of securities fraud to carry on an essentially political vendetta against a corporate enemy, how safe are other businesses?” My new Cato post reports on a judge’s scathing rejection of a case that should never have been brought, the New York Attorney General’s attempt to hang fraud charges on Exxon over its statements on climate change.
- I was part of an informative panel discussion of “Climate Change Litigation and Public Nuisance Lawsuits” organized by the Rule of Law Defense Fund [watch here] Podcast and transcript of an October update on state and municipal climate litigation with Boyden Gray [Federalist Society] And because it’s still relevant, my 2007 WSJ piece (paywalled) on how contingency fees for representing public-sector plaintiffs are an ethical travesty;
- New York securities case against ExxonMobil goes to trial [Daniel Fisher, Legal Newsline; earlier] At last minute, NY Attorney General Letitia James, successor to Eric Schneiderman, drops the two counts requiring proof of intent, which the state had earlier deployed to accuse Exxon of deliberate misrepresentation. Still in play is the state’s unique Martin Act, which allows finding fraud without proof of intent [Nicholas Kusnetz, Inside Climate News]
- Ninth Circuit panel hears “children’s” climate case, Juliana v. U.S. [Federalist Society podcast with James May, Damien Schiff, and Jonathan Adler; related commentary, James Coleman]
- Bernie Sanders doesn’t really need legal arguments for retroactive criminal prosecutions if he’s got Jacobin on his side, right?
- “Lawyers are unleashing a flurry of lawsuits to step up the fight against climate change” [Darlene Ricker, ABA Journal]
- Who’s backing Extinction Rebellion, the lawbreaking group that blocked intersections in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere this fall? “The answer, in part, is the scions of some of America’s most famous families, including the Kennedys and the Gettys.” [John Schwartz, New York Times]
- Gov. Jerry Brown signs into law California bill imposing minimum quota for women on corporate boards: “it’s very hard to see how this law could be upheld” [Emily Gold Waldman, PrawfsBlawg, earlier, more: Alison Somin, Federalist Society] “The passage of this law resulted in a significant decline in shareholder value for firms headquartered in California.” [Hwang et al. via Bainbridge]
- Martin Act, part umpteen: “New York Attorney General Overreaches in Climate-Change Complaint Against Exxon” [Merritt B. Fox, Columbia Blue Sky Blog]
- “Now he tells us! You’d think that maybe Bharara would have publicly acknowledged this ambiguity and haziness [in insider trading law] before bringing a series of cases that destroyed careers and imposed huge costs on the individuals who were accused.” [Ira Stoll]
- “Because [Florida agriculture commissioner-elect Nikki Fried] took donations from the medical marijuana industry, Wells Fargo and BB&T banks closed her campaign accounts briefly, citing policies against serving businesses related to marijuana, which is still prohibited under federal law.” [Lori Rozsa, Washington Post, Erin Dunne, Washington Examiner (“fix the marijuana banking mess”)]
- Survey: “Average cost of a settled merger-objection claim has increased 63% to $4.5 million over four years, with little benefit to shareholders” [Chubb] “Time for Another Round of Securities Class Action Litigation Reform?” [Kevin LaCroix, D&O Diary on U.S. Chamber paper, and more on trends in Australia]
- “Congress Can’t Create an Independent and Unaccountable New Branch of Government” [Ilya Shapiro on Cato cert amicus in State National Bank of Big Spring v. Mnuchin, on constitutionality of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)]
- So many private actors, from Michael Bloomberg on down, helped steer New York AG office to sue Exxon [John Solomon, The Hill; Tom Stebbins, Crain’s New York Business; Francis Menton, RealClearEnergy; earlier here, here, here, here, etc. ] “Whatever the merits of the plaintiffs’ policy objectives, their campaign to circumvent the political branches poses a serious threat to the rule of law and the constitutional principle of separation of powers.” [Jim Huffman, Quillette] “Emails Show Law Firm Pitched San Francisco on Idea of Suing Energy Producers” [Todd Shepherd, Free Beacon]
- Supreme Court heard oral argument last month on the dusky gopher frog habitat case, Weyerhaeuser v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service [Faimon Roberts, The Advocate; Rick Hills, PrawfsBlawg; earlier here and here]
- High court has ordered reargument on cemetery-trespass takings case Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania [Gideon Kanner; earlier here, here, here, and here; Ilya Somin and more and yet more on what’s at stake]
- Reduction or no, damage award against Monsanto in Roundup/glyphosate case is likely headed to appeal [Helen Christophi, Courthouse News and more, earlier]
- Behind push for European regulatory crackdown on cadmium levels in fertilizer, “a Russian fertilizer giant that has ties to the Kremlin” [Matt Apuzzo, New York Times]
- “No, LaCroix Isn’t Poisoning You Like You’re A Giant Cockroach” [Christie Aschwanden, Five Thirty-Eight, earlier] There’s Drano in your eye drops, and it’s okay to relax about that [Josh Bloom, ACSH]
- Biggest recruit yet for climate recoupment suits: NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio sues blaming five oil companies for Superstorm Sandy [Seth Barron/City Journal, John Timmer/ArsTechnica, WSJ; Stephen Bainbridge on parallel divestment effort]
- California cities/counties suing oil companies: climate change will be our ruin. Same cities/counties selling bonds to investors: risk? what risk? [Andrew Scurria/WSJ; John O’Brien/Forbes] Santa Cruz joins several other Bay Area counties in action [Nicholas Ibarra, Santa Cruz Sentinel]
- Can’t spell “Oedipal” without “O-i-l”: Rockefeller heirs bankroll #ExxonKnew crusade against great-granddad’s company [Reeves Wiedeman, New York mag]
- Same article takes disbelieving tone about possibility that state AGs’ campaign might trample anyone’s First Amendment rights [memory refresher] More about that in this Margaret (Peggy) Little and Andrew Grossman 2016 Federalist Society podcast and my Twitter thread about it;
- National Association of Manufacturers launches legal initiative to push back against industrywide and attorney-general tort, nuisance, and public-recoupment suits, notably on climate and lead paint [John Siciliano, Washington Examiner; Linda Kelly, The Hill; NAM’s Manufacturing Accountability Project and its coverage of the art of “climate attribution,” the early failed Kivalina suit (more on which), origins of Global Warming Legal Action Project]
- Pssst, Vice — in profiling Steve Berman you might want to be aware that a few other attorneys claim some minor role in also having “won a $200 billion settlement from tobacco companies in the 90s” [compare claims of lawyers organizing opioid suits]
“Warning to Corporate Counsel: If State AGs Can Do This to ExxonMobil, How Safe Is Your Company?” Prof. John Baker in the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, excerpt:
Nation-states have long fought wars for control of oil. In a novel development, American states are now fighting a war over control of oil—not with one state attempting to take oil from another, but with some states attempting to deny its use to other states. In 2015, New York’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, began an investigation of ExxonMobil. Then, at a news conference held in New York City on March 29, 2016, Schneiderman said that he and a group of other attorneys general were looking at “creative legal theories” to bring about “the beginning of the end of our addiction to fossil fuel.” The group is comprised of seventeen attorneys general, representing fifteen states, the District of Columbia, and one territory. Opposing these attorneys general from mostly “blue states” are attorneys general from twenty-seven mostly “red states.”
We’ve covered one angle of the investigation — its attempt to attach legal consequences to wrongful climate advocacy, and use subpoena power to investigate advocates — at length. Baker writes about many others, including the murky origins of the multi-state investigation and related professional responsibility questions, Exxon’s subdued public response, and the prospect of an ideological “War Between the States.”
- “Rockefeller Foundations Enlist Journalism in ‘Moral’ Crusade Against ExxonMobil” [Ken Silverstein] Massachusetts was using courts to investigate heretics back before the oil industry was even whale oil [Reuters on subpoena ruling] Washington Post shouldn’t have run Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on climate politics without noting his brutal efforts to subpoena/silence opponents on that topic;
- “Should you go to jail if you can’t recognize every endangered species?” [Jonathan Wood]
- Sandy Ikeda reviews Robert H. Nelson, Private Neighborhoods and the Transformation of Local Government [Market Urbanism]
- D.C. Circuit shouldn’t let EPA get away again with ignoring cost of power plant regs [Andrew Grossman on Cato amicus brief]
- Under what circumstances should libertarians be willing to live with eminent domain in the construction of energy pipelines? [Ilya Somin and earlier] Economic benefits of fracking are $3.5 trillion, according to new study [Erik Gilje, Robert Ready, and Nikolai Roussanov, NBER via Tyler Cowen]
- “Dramatically simpler than the old code…[drops] mandates for large amounts of parking.” Buffalo rethinks zoning [Aaron Renn, City Journal] Arnold Kling on California’s housing shortage; John Cochrane on an encouraging Jason Furman op-ed; “Zoning: America’s Local Version Of Crony Capitalism” [Scott Beyer]
Promoters of the “Exxon Knew” climate denial subpoena campaign have made a point of saying they intend to repeat the playbook of the 1990s multi-state and federal tobacco litigation, this time with the energy industry and its various trade associations, allies, and non-profit/university well-wishers as targets. But what does it mean to repeat the tobacco playbook? As one who has written at length about that episode (along with various other authors including Cato’s Robert Levy, the late Martha Derthick, and Margaret Little) I can help spell out what that means. The public-sector tobacco litigation fell out of favor as a policy model because it was the scene of vast corruption fueled by the availability of billions in fees to politically favored private lawyers; because of its grotesque violations of elemental legal fairness, such as the enactment of statutes retroactively knocking out legal defenses for the state’s opponents; because of its quick-change remake of purported initial idealism into cash on the barrelhead as the primary driver of settlement; and because of its grave civil liberties violations such as the federal government’s assertion of a right to close down industry trade associations and seize their files. Are advocates of the new climate-denial litigation hoping for it to follow the same path? [Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, thanks for quoting me]