- A workplace hazard? Push in Britain to “make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work.” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason]
- Service dogs on planes: “a ‘credible verbal assurance’ books Fido a trip to San Francisco for the weekend” [David Post, Volokh Conspiracy] Australia, too, sees trend toward exotic service and emotional-support animals [Workplace Prof; earlier]
- Trial lawyers would like Supreme Court to squash the arbitration alternative, but few signs Judge Gorsuch is on board with that plan [Edith Roberts, SCOTUSBlog]
- New York radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, not a favorite in these columns, dead at 77 [Scott Johnson, PowerLine, earlier]
- Baltimore police scandal, “yes means yes” bill for MoCo schools, homicide rap for overdose suppliers?, school wi-fi scare, Tom Perez, and more in my Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
- Suing so soon over White House regulatory reform, Public Citizen, and with so little show of injury? [Brian Mannix, Law and Liberty]
I wrote the new chapter on redistricting reform in the just-out 8th Edition of Cato’s Handbook for Policymakers. The issue continues to rise in visibility with new federal court rulings on the topic, notably in Wisconsin (Whitford v. Gill), and former President Barack Obama’s announced intention of being active on the topic.
Closer to home for me, the Maryland legislature will again consider Gov. Larry Hogan’s bill to create an independent redistricting commission to replace the state’s current insider-dominated method of drawing Congressional and state legislative district lines. Last month (see above) I joined WAMU radio host Kojo Nnamdi, former Del. Aisha Braveboy and Maryland GOP chair Dirk Haire to discuss the prospects for reform (audio link). Hearings are this Friday in Annapolis and I’ll be there, not wearing my Cato hat but as part of my civic involvement.
- Bad idea keeps spreading: “Philadelphia to Prohibit Asking Job Applicants About Their Prior Wage History” [Ford Harrison] Bill introduced in Maryland legislature [Danielle Gaines, Frederick News-Post on HB 398]
- “New York (State and City) Imposes New Rules for Freelancers, State Contracts” [Daniel Schwartz]
- On the minimum wage, lame reporting and motivated reasoning make war on Econ 101 [David Boaz and Ryan Bourne, Cato]
- In final Obama days, EEOC finalizes rules toughening affirmative action requirements for federal agency employers regarding workers with disabilities [Joe Seiner, Workplace Prof]
- Study: Indictments of union officials correlate with close election outcomes [Mitch Downey via Tyler Cowen]
- “Ohio again tries to restore sanity to its bonkers employment discrimination law” [Jon Hyman]
- Freedom of association is at risk from California’s effort to crack open donor names of advocacy nonprofits [Ilya Shapiro on Cato Ninth Circuit amicus]
- “Center for Class Action Fairness wins big in Southwest Airlines coupons case, triples relief for class members” [CEI, earlier here, here]
- Campus kangaroo courts: KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor Jr. have spent a week guestblogging at Volokh on their new book (first, second, third, fourth, fifth, earlier links; plus Christina Hoff Sommers and WSJ video interviews with Stuart Taylor, Jr.]
- Despite his I’m-no-libertarian talk, two 2015 cases show Judge Neil Gorsuch alert to rights of Drug War defendants [Jacob Sullum]
- Drug pricing, estate/inheritance double tax whammy, shaken baby case, mini-OIRA in my new Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
- And the legal fees flowed like water: dispute with Georgia over water rights has clocked $72 million in legal bills for Florida [Orlando Sentinel]
Yesterday the city of Baltimore signed a 227-page consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice putting the city’s police department under wide-ranging federal control for the indefinite future (earlier).
The decree (document; summary of high points) mingles some terms that rise to genuine constitutional significance with others that no court would have ordered, and yet others that appear not to be requirements of the law at all, but at most best practices. Many are virtually or entirely unenforceable (“professional and courteous” interaction with citizens). Whether or not the decree results in the less frequent violation of citizens’ rights, it is certain to result in large amounts of new spending and in the extension of the powers of lawyers working for various parties.
In November David Meyer Lindenberg of Fault Lines, the criminal justice website, wrote this opinion piece about the failure of DoJ police reform consent decrees to live up to the high claims often made for them (more: Scott Shackford, Reason). Our consent decrees tag traces the problems with these devices in a variety of public agencies such as those handling children’s and mental health services, as well as the budgetary rigidity they often impose.
Since Congress passed enabling legislation in 1994 in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating, the Washington Post and Frontline reported in a 2015 investigation, “Twenty-six [police] investigations — a little more than half of them since President Obama took office — have led to the most rigorous outcome: binding agreements tracked by monitors. More than half were consent decrees, meaning they were approved and managed in federal court.” As of that point only Ohio, at 4 agreements, had had more than Maryland, at 3.
This 2008 report from the Alabama Policy Institute by Michael DeBow, Gary Palmer, and John J. Park, Jr. takes a critical view of the decrees’ use in institutional reform litigation (not specifically police), and comes with a foreword by Sen. Jeff Sessions, now the nominee to replace Loretta Lynch as Attorney General of the U.S. Speaking of which, there’s something so weird about some liberals’ eagerness to hand the keys to big-city police departments over to Mr. Sessions. It’s as if they think once Main Justice is calling the shots it won’t think of using that leverage on issues like, say, sanctuary cities.
- Group letters by law professors opposing nominees should be treated with the respect due, normally zero [John McGinnis, Michael Krauss, Paul Caron/TaxProf with links to columns by Stephen Presser, Scott Douglas Gerber, and James Huffman]
- USA, courthouse to the world for compensation claims, even 100+ years later [Guardian on suit in Manhattan federal court by descendants of atrocities committed by Germans in what is now Namibia in early 1900s]
- Marvels of NYC tenant law: “Couple renting Chelsea pad hasn’t paid rent since 2010” [New York Post]
- Election results could mean 11th-hour save for embattled cause of consumer arbitration [Liz Kramer/Stinson Leonard Street LLP]
- Baltimore policing, family leave in Montgomery County, Uber/Lyft fingerprinting, getting money out of Howard County politics, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup at Free State Notes;
- Speaking of ridesharing and regulation: “Without Uber or Lyft, Austin Experiences Skyrocketing DUI Rates” [Brittany Hunter, FEE]
- John Cochrane and Stephen Bainbridge on Dodd-Frank reform in a new administration;
- Gift of insider information to friends or family is insider trading, rules SCOTUS in Salman v. U.S. [Thaya Brook Knight, Bainbridge, WLF, Ira Stoll; earlier]
- Five state legislatures (California, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, and Connecticut) now push private employers to enlist employees in state retirement plans. Caution needed [Vimbai Chikomo, AMI Newswire, SIFMA, NAIFA, Bloomberg in August on new rules; earlier here and here]
- “The Repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act: Myth and Reality” [new Oonagh McDonald Cato Policy Analysis, Mark Calabria]
- Federalist Society podcast with Jason Johnston and Thaddeus King on class actions in consumer finance agreements;
- More on why de novo bank starts have become so uncommon [Kevin Funnell]
- Irony alert: Get-money-out-of-politics measure passes 53-47 in Howard County, Md. after backers outspend foes 10-1 [Len Lazarick, Maryland Reporter]
- “Hershey’s Scoffs At Class Action Over Amount Of Kisses In Bags” [Dee Thompson, Legal NewsLine/Forbes]
- Philippines bar responds after president Duterte menaces lawyers of drug suspects [Tetch Torres-Tupas/Inquirer, InterAksyon and letter]
- What should Trump do re: conflicts? Richard Painter and David Rifkin discuss [Federalist Society podcast; earlier]
- Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, lately seen in this space using subpoena power to go after political adversaries who hadn’t taken a dime from ExxonMobil, also known for curious assault on gunmakers [David Meyer Lindenberg, Fault Lines]
- “N.Y. Top Court Rules Litigation Finance Transaction Violates Champerty Doctrine” [Kevin LaCroix, Alison Frankel on Justinian Capital SPC v. WestLB AG] “An epic legal battle with big implications for litigation funding” [The Economist on Liberian insurance claims against Cigna]
It’s a common hope that public schools will maintain some semblance of broad political neutrality between the great parties and causes in U.S. society. But many have been failing badly at this [Frederick Hess and Chester Finn/U.S. News, AP/Fox News (San Francisco teachers’ union lesson plan)] Related: Washington Post [Montgomery County, Maryland; liberal excused-absence policy following street protests by high school students; dissident student injured]
I’ve got a letter in the Frederick News-Post responding to the paper’s editorial on these topics, which begins with the unfortunate headline “Hate speech is not free speech” and never recovers its footing from there. Related, from Eugene Volokh last year: “No, there’s no ‘hate speech exception to the First Amendment.” (& welcome Instapundit readers)
- With U.S. international adoption already down 75 percent, proposed State Department regulations could choke off much of remainder [SaveAdoptions.org, Jayme Metzgar/Federalist, National Council for Adoption]
- Baltimore police surveillance, redistricting, teacher’s union holidays: after a hiatus I’ve resumed Maryland policy roundups at Free State Notes;
- Facebook potluck group was being monitored: “Single Mother Facing Prison for Selling Homemade Mexican Dish to Undercover Cop” [Robby Soave]
- Brad Avakian, tormentor of small businesspeople under Oregon discrimination law, loses Secretary of State bid [Victoria Taft, IJR]
- Shipping & Transit LLC: “America’s Biggest Filer of Patent Suits Wants You to Know It Invented Shipping Notification” [Ruth Simon and Loretta Chao, WSJ] “Stupid Patent of the Month: Changing the Channel” [Daniel Nazer, EFF]