- Kansas Supreme Court rules 4-3 that cops can conduct warrantless search of private homes if they say they smell marijuana. Practical difference between this and “…whenever they please” is not clear [Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal] More: Jacob Sullum;
- At Timbs v. Indiana oral argument, Court seems sympathetic to idea of applying Excessive Fines clause to the states [Robby Soave, Jacob Sullum, Ilya Somin, earlier here, here, and here] Notwithstanding Justice Gorsuch and Kavanaugh’s interjections, there is and has been no uniform incorporation of the entire Bill of Rights against the states [Rory Little]
- Arizona Supreme Court should recognize that First Amendment protects right of calligraphic art studio not to be forced to draw invitations and vows for wedding ceremony of which owner/artists disapprove on religious grounds [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran on Cato Institute amicus brief in Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix]
- Claim: notwithstanding SCOTUS precedent to the contrary, U.S. Constitution contains no general federal power to restrict immigration [Ilya Somin and others, Cato Unbound symposium, more]
- “The Supreme Court Really Needs to Start Defining the Scope of the Second Amendment” [Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere on Cato amicus brief in Mance v. Whitaker, interstate sales by gun dealers] “Bump Stock Rule Bumps Up Against the Constitution” [Shapiro and Larosiere] “The Most Common Firearm in America is Not a ‘Weapon of War’” [same on Cato amicus brief in Worman v. Healey, Massachusetts ban on “assault weapons”] Federal court strikes down as unconstitutional New York’s ban on nunchaku [AP, Lowering the Bar with previous coverage of lawyer’s quest]
- “An individual’s right to live free from governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential, and inherent.” That’s a recently adopted provision of the New Hampshire constitution. Now what does it mean? [David Post]
I’ll be giving lunchtime talks at two law schools in Kansas next week, courtesy local chapters of the Federalist Society. On Monday I’ll visit Washburn University Law School in Topeka, where Prof. Joseph Mastrosimone will provide comment. And then on Tuesday I’ll speak at the University of Kansas School of Law in Lawrence. My topic at both campuses will be “A Libertarian Looks at Employment Law.” Come say hello!
- Thread on Broward County, Fla. discipline policies and blame-shifting after Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting [Max Eden on Twitter]
- Nothing wrong with Kansas making clear that school finance is province of elected legislature, not courts [Gavel to Gavel] Study finds that successful school finance lawsuits do redistribute funds, even after public agencies adjust [Zachary Liscow via Caron/TaxProf]
- “Why the Federal Government Can’t Mandate an Ideal School Suspension Rate” [Robby Soave, Reason] “School Discipline: Don’t Make a Federal Case Out of It” [Gail Heriot]
- Teacher strikes might have begun backfiring [Jessica R. Towhey, Inside Sources] Are teachers underpaid as a group? [Andrew G. Biggs and Jason Richwine, City Journal] Opponents of school choice embrace a logic that might lead to overturning the landmark liberty case Pierce v. Society of Sisters [Caleb Brown, Kentucky]
- Judge dismisses remaining “clock boy” claims against Texas school district [Elvia Limón, Dallas News, earlier here and here]
- Kent, Wash.: “Parents sue school district after son killed in car-surfing accident” [Amy Clancy, KIRO]
“Kansas’ legislative process is among the least transparent in the country, often cutting the public out of debates and making it difficult for constituents to track bills, let alone determine who sponsored them.” A popular tactic is the “gut-and-go,” in which a bill is sent to the floor with its original content deleted and unrelated matter substituted, which can result in the bringing to a quick floor vote of legislation that has bypassed the committee hearing process and public attention. The maneuver turns up in some other states as well, under nicknames like “gut and stuff” and “gut and amend.”
Also: “In Kansas, unlike most other states, nearly all the laws passed stem from bills whose authors are anonymous. All but six of the 104 bills that became law this year — a whopping 94 percent — were introduced by committees, with no sponsors identified. That means Kansans don’t know who pushed the measures and why.” [Judy L. Thomas and Bryan Lowry, Kansas City Star]
- Federal judge Wolf mulls appointing special master to investigate possible fee fraud in class action against State Street Bank [Boston Globe]
- Two lawyers start fighting on an airplane over a shared armrest, and it makes the papers [New York Post]
- Philly proposes mandatory sensitivity training for owners, employees of 11 gay bars [Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations report via Heat Street]
- Finally, some constraints on Mississippi Attorney General and longtime Overlawyered favorite Jim Hood? [Mississippi Business]
- One view of emergent controversy: “The Case Against National Injunctions, No Matter Who Is President” [Samuel Bray, LawFare, more from same author]
- “Court To Review Target’s $10M Customer Data Breach Settlement” [Consumerist; Minneapolis Star-Tribune; Ted Frank’s Center for Class Action Fairness is objecting]
- In or near Kansas? I’m speaking next week in Topeka at a Washburn University School of Law conference on the future of employment law [Feb. 23, details]
- Another day, another lawsuit charging a social media company with material support for terrorism. This time it’s Twitter and IS attacks in Paris, Brussels [Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare; Tim Cushing, Techdirt] More: And yet another (Dallas police officer versus Twitter, Facebook, and Google; listed as one of the filing attorneys is 1-800-LAW-FIRM, no kidding, complaint h/t Eric Goldman);
- “Woman Sues Chipotle for $2 Billion for Using a Photo of Her Without Consent” [Petapixel]
- “Hot-Yoga Guy and His Cars Are Missing” [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
- From Backpage.com to unpopular climate advocacy, state attorneys general use subpoena power to punish and chill [Ilya Shapiro]
- Dept. of awful ideas: California assemblyman proposes registry of hate crime offenders [Scott Shackford]
- But oh, so worth it otherwise: “Not one Kansas state senator is a lawyer, making compliance with obscure statute impossible” [ABA Journal]
- In the mail: “No Child Left Alone: Getting the Government Out of Parenting,” forthcoming book by Abby Wisse Schachter [more: Pittsburgh Tribune Eric Heyl interview]
- Neighbor reports Winnipeg mom to child services for letting kids play in fenced-in back yard [Canadian Press/National Post via Amy Alkon]
- “Public space in Germany is not held hostage by liability lawsuits; Berlin playgrounds are not designed by lawyers.” And they’re awesome [Anna Winger, New York Times]
- Controversy intensifies further on Scotland’s Named Person scheme [Scottish Mail on Sunday (“complete stranger” will be assigned as Named Person to each child over school holidays), Gerald Warner/CapX, earlier here and here]
- Omar Mateen’s road to becoming a security guard: “He had issues. All the records were discarded by the school system, per statute. Clearly, if his employer had access to his juvenile record, he would be the last person to own a weapon.” [Yahoo]
- Kansas Supreme Court orders state legislature to increase funding for poor districts [ABA Journal, earlier here, here, etc.]
- Left-right cooperation on school reform begins to break down amid demands to toe social justice line [Robert Pondiscio]
- Federal Circuit court of appeals says government can’t deny trademark as “disparaging” just because it frowns on its expressive content, implications are favorable for Washington Redskins in their legal case [Eugene Volokh, Paul Alan Levy, In Re Simon Shiao Tam opinion, case won by past Overlawyered guestblogger Ron Coleman]
- Mentally ill man walks into San Diego county recorder’s office, submits properly filled-out deed transferring major sports stadium to his name, chaos ensues [San Diego Union Tribune]
- Lawsuit against prolific California class action firm includes details on how it allegedly recruits plaintiffs, shapes testimony [Daniel Fisher]
- New Jersey: “Man Sues Because Alimony Checks Were Mean To Him” [Elie Mystal/Above the Law, ABA Journal]
- Blustery Texan Joe Jamail, “greatest lawyer who ever lived” or not, was no stranger to Overlawyered coverage [Houston Chronicle, Texas Monthly (“We only overpaid by a factor of five, and that felt like a win”), Daniel Fisher (city should have cut down beloved oak tree in road median because “it isn’t open season on drunks”)] Jamail’s best-known case gave me chance to write what still might be my all-time favorite headline, for a Richard Epstein article in what is now Cato’s (and was then AEI’s) Regulation magazine: “The Pirates of Pennzoil.”
- Hotel security camera footage may help decide whether Eloise tainted-sandwich tale will end up shelved as fiction [New York Post]
- Your War on Drugs: shopping at garden store, throwing loose tea in trash after brewing combine with police goofs to generate probable cause for SWAT raid on Kansas family’s home [Radley Balko] More: Orin Kerr.
- Many states have liberalized rules on family homeschooling, now comes the backlash from proponents of tighter regulation [NY Times]
- Kansas Supreme Court decrees higher school spending, estimated taxpayer cost upwards of $500 million [Greg Weiner, Law and Liberty, Wichita Eagle; earlier] After all, judicially directed school munificence worked so well in nearby Kansas City, Missouri [via @David_Boaz]
- Scaring ourselves to death: the insanity of school active shooter drills [Radley Balko]
- University of Virginia’s resistance to assault hoax weaker than Duke’s, possibly because pressure on skeptics to shut up has intensified [KC Johnson/Stuart Taylor, Jr./Real Clear Politics] Hans Bader on curious provisions of feds’ settlement with Harvard [Examiner, earlier]
- “Oklahoma court declines to order [high school] football game replayed for blown call” [Paul Cassell, more]
- Ohio judge rules principals, superintendent open to being sued personally over school shooting [Insurance Journal]
- “Wow. How fun is this? A merry go round welded stationary. So kids don’t get hurt. Way to go, New York!” [Lenore Skenazy]
Should we cheer or boo when outspoken professors at state universities become the target of public records demands filed by antagonists seeking their emails and correspondence? As we had occasion to note during the Douglas Laycock controversy in May and June, there’s plenty of inconsistency on this question on both left and right. Some who cheer FOIA requests when aimed at scholars supportive of the environmental and labor movements, for example, later deplore them as harassment when the tables are turned, and vice versa.
If there’s any group you might expect to take a consistent position on these questions, it’s the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), its members being prospective targets of such requests and thus at the very center of the issue. So what’s their opinion?
In 2011, when politically liberal University of Wisconsin historian William Cronon was the target of a FOIA request by state Republicans, AAUP sent a strongly worded letter on its letterhead denouncing the move as a threat to academic freedom. The group likewise came to the defense of environmentalists targeted by conservatives.
This spring, an AAUP document on “Academic Freedom and Electronic Communications” (see pp. 12-14) was moderately critical of FOIA requests targeting University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus and his journal editor over a much-criticized study providing social conservatives with ammunition against changes in family law favorable toward gays. Since no one suspects the AAUP’s leadership of sympathy with the content of Regnerus’s work, this suggested that the skepticism toward FOIA might be founded on principle.
Not long afterward, however, when prominent (and politically unclassifiable) University of Virginia law professor Doug Laycock came under FOIA attack from gay rights activists who disapproved of his courtroom work on religious liberties, the AAUP was quoted in the press talking in a more vague and reticent way of “balance” and saying it weighs in on particular controversies rather than taking general stands.
Now turn to the University of Kansas, where Art Hall, executive director of the Center for Applied Economics at Kansas University’s business school is under FOIA attack, accused of being too close to the free-market economics favored by donors from the Koch family of Wichita (who have also given much support over the years to the Cato Institute, which publishes this site). So what do you know? The state AAUP chapter is actually leading the charge against Hall, its members have raised funds to support the public records demand, and its state president vocally insists that there’s no danger whatsoever to academic freedom in allowing, as a group once put it, “fleeting, often casual e-mail exchanges among scholars to be opened to inspection by groups bent on political attack.”
You might start to wonder whether the AAUP is going to hold to any consistent position at all beyond the convenience of the moment. (& George Leef, Phi Beta Cons; reprinted at Minding the Campus) Update: Judge halts process to review proposed email release [Will Creeley, FIRE]