Last month a court struck down Los Angeles’s ordinance intended to discourage city contractors from dealing with the National Rifle Association (NRA), ruling it a First Amendment violation intended to chill speech and association. An amusing feature: the bill’s sponsor just couldn’t help grandstanding on Twitter and elsewhere about taking down the NRA, which provided the court with valuable evidence of the city’s intent. Moreover, the gun rights group has been making headway against similar efforts in San Francisco and New York state (led there by Gov. Andrew Cuomo) to target its pocketbook. I explain in a new piece at National Review.
- “New legislation aimed at curbing foreign influence in U.S. elections also appears to be aimed at curbing Americans’ influence in U.S. elections.” [Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown and Scott Blackburn of the Institute for Free Speech on SHIELD Act]
- “Everyone always talks about how much money there is in politics. This is the wrong framing. The right framing is… why is there so little money in politics?” [Scott Alexander]
- Free speech advances other freedoms: “Frederick Douglass’s “Plea for Freedom of Speech in Boston”” [Law and Liberty, Kurt Lash introduction] The very idea of a gay rights organization once seemed unthinkable in America, and might have remained so “in the absence of a strong and particularly libertarian First Amendment.” [Dale Carpenter, SSRN and Volokh Conspiracy summary]
- “That unlimited right to lobby the lawmakers who make decisions that affect your life, your family, and your fortune is one that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) thinks American businesses should not have.” [Peter Suderman; Bradley Smith and Luke Wachob, NRO] A federal appeals court says an independent Missouri activist doesn’t have to register as a lobbyist to talk to lawmakers [Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown and Zac Morgan of the Institute for Free Speech]
- “Every Democrat in the Senate Supports a Constitutional Amendment That Would Radically Curtail Freedom of Speech” [Jacob Sullum] Same bunch “Still Fundraising Off Citizens United, Still Wrong About What It Means” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
- “Essentially, L.A. has passed a law saying people with one interest in a decision by the council can support candidates, but the other side can’t.” [Christian Britschgi, Reason on city’s ban on contributions by developer but not anti-development interests]
- States increase pension crisis with payouts for unused vacation and sick time [Steve Malanga, City Journal] “The Politics of Public Pension Boards” [Daniel DiSalvo, Manhattan Institute last year]
- State personnel board ordered reinstatement: “San Jose State cop fired after beating gets job back, now with Los Gatos police” [Robert Salonga, East Bay Times via Peter Bonilla]
- Time for the bizarre “California Rule” on pensions to go [public employers may not reduce future pension benefits even when based on work not yet performed; Carol M. Matheis, Federalist Society last year, earlier here and here] “Why California’s Pensions Only Deepen Inequality” [Joe Mathews, Zocalo Public Square] “Some L.A. pensions are so huge they exceed IRS limits, costing taxpayers millions extra” [Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times, last December]
- “You’re Not Fired: Do Civil Servants Have a Property Interest in Their Job?” [Federalist Society animated Policy Brief with Greg Jacob]
- Court opinions and administration actions are restricting push-button access to dues from home health care workers and unions aren’t happy about that [Steven Malanga, City Journal]
- California Teachers Association, Service Employees International Union push initiative to end Proposition 13 limits on commercial property taxation [Steven Greenhut, Reason]
- “Your license is gone, your livelihood is gone, the care of your patients is gone. How fair is that?” Opposition grows to policy of yanking occupational licenses over unpaid student loans [Marc Hyden and Shoshana Weissman, Governing; Nick Sibilla, Forbes]
- Los Angeles ballot measure was billed as advancing affordable housing, but prevailing-wage provisions helped ensure that it didn’t [Steven Sharp, Urbanize Los Angeles]
- Not mad at Jon Hyman for advising client employers to avoid legal risk by not employing released sex offenders, just mad at the policymakers who play to the cheap seats by perpetuating the casual cruelties of the offender registry laws;
- “International programs demonstrate that paid leave benefits grow substantially over time, similar to other government entitlement programs.” [Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato; more Calder on paid leave mandates here, here, and (roundtable conversation) here (from last fall) and here; Emily Ekins, Cato and more (depth of public support depends on assumptions about impact on pay and women’s career prospects); Veronique de Rugy (why are conservatives supporting?)]
- Frankfurter and Greene’s 1930 book The Labor Injunction, one of the most influential books ever about American labor law, prepared the ground for the New Deal’s Norris-LaGuardia Anti-Injunction Act. How accurately did it portray the labor injunctions of its day? [Mark Pulliam, Law and Liberty]
- “What Will the E-Verify Program Be Used to Surveil Next?” [David Bier, Cato via David Henderson]
“The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday agreed to settle a pivotal and contentious case on the property rights of homeless people — a decision that is likely to limit the seizure and destruction of encampments on skid row.” Since 2016 the city has been in litigation with civil rights lawyers representing homeless persons “and two Skid Row anti-poverty groups.” Subsequently, “U.S. District Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles issued an injunction [that] barred the city from seizing and destroying homeless people’s property on skid row unless officials could show it had been abandoned, threatened public health or safety, or consisted of contraband or evidence of a crime.” [Gale Holland, L.A. Times; Susan Shelley, L.A. Daily News] An estimated 2,000 persons live in the downtown L.A. encampments, and diseases little seen in peacetime in the modern era, including flea-borne typhus, have been making a comeback. [Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News/The Atlantic; KCOP; earlier]
L.A. should have put the Skid Row encampments under the authority of the California Coastal Commission. That would have ended all chance that anyone could successfully assert property rights in them.
- 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]
Citing a study by Stanford University researcher Eric Hanushek, Howard notes that bad teachers have a much greater negative effect on student performance than good teachers have a positive effect. Based on student-performance data, Hanushek’s study concluded that dismissing the worst 8 percent of American public school teachers would put American students on par with those of Finland, which has the highest-scoring students in the world. Yet it’s nearly impossible to fire tenured teachers. In Los Angeles, an effort to fire just seven notoriously bad instructors cost the city $3.5 million, and only got rid of four of the teachers.
— Jonathan Leaf, City Journal, reviewing Philip K. Howard’s new book Try Common Sense: Replacing the Failed Ideologies of Right and Left.
- “Sandwiches and main meal salads will be capped at 550 calories, ready meals will be capped at 544 calories and main courses in restaurants will be capped at 951 calories.” Guidelines from Public Health England aren’t mandatory yet, but expect U.K. government pressure on supermarkets and restaurants [Christopher Snowdon, Baylen Linnekin, Scott Shackford, Ryan Bourne]
- “We are not saying they can never give children a chocolate or biscuit ever again,” says the Public Health England official. “But it cannot be a daily occurrence.” And more from “2018: The [mostly U.K.] nanny state year in review” [Snowdon]
- Research paper on Philadelphia soda tax: cross-border shopping completely offsets in-city reduction in beverage sales, “no significant reduction in calorie and sugar intake.” [Stephan Seiler, Anna Tuchman, and Song Yao, SSRN via Caron/TaxProf] More: owner blames tax for closure of Philly supermarket [Eric Boehm]
- Alternative headline: feds act to curb food waste by giving local schools more freedom to offer lunches kids will willingly eat [Jaden Urbi, CNBC]
- “Los Angeles councilmember Paul Koretz [has] introduced a bill that, if passed, would require entertainment and travel venues around town to put at least one vegan dish on their menus.” [Clint Rainey, Grub Street; Scott Shackford]
- “Dollar stores are the latest target of advocates who want to improve food offerings by limiting them” [Baylen Linnekin]
Orange County, California voters have declined to re-elect District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, whose doings have provided repeated grist for this space. His successor and former protege sounds like a possible source of grist too: “A Wahoo’s employee told the deputy Spitzer decided to handcuff the preacher because he kept looking at Spitzer.” [Nick Gerda, Voice of OC; R. Scott Moxley, OC Weekly]
“Quite frequently, it is in the best interest for project organizers to pay off the people opposing the project, instead of going through the lawsuit and delay…. And understand that these groups claim they are speaking for you.” [Josh Albrektson, Market Urbanism Report] Earlier on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) here.