I wrote in October about “a low-profile program in which a nonprofit backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg places lawyers in state attorney generals’ offices, paying their keep, on the condition that they pursue environmental causes.” Now the Virginia legislature has approved a provision apparently aimed at heading off the practice in that state, the relevant provision reading: “The sole source of compensation paid to employees of the Office of the Attorney General for performing legal services on behalf of the Commonwealth shall be from the appropriations provided under this act.” Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has campaigned against the practice. [Todd Shepherd, Free Beacon; Charmaine Little, Legal NewsLine]
My new Cato post looks at a low-profile program in which a nonprofit backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg places lawyers in state attorney generals’ offices, paying their keep, on the condition that they pursue environmental causes. We know much about this and other AG entanglements thanks to two reports by Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) based on public records requests that had been strenuously resisted by the state AGs. (CEI was itself the target of a notorious subpoena engineered by AG offices.) The New York Post also takes a critical view of the program.
- California state agency in charge of Prop 65 enforcement seeks to effectively reverse judge’s recent ruling and exempt naturally occurring acrylamide levels in coffee from need for warning [Cal Biz Lit] Prop 65 listing mechanism requires listing of substances designated by a strictly private organization, spot the problem with that [WLF brief in Monsanto Co. v. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment]
- Yes, those proposals to ban plastic straws are a test run for broader plastic prohibitions [Christian Britschgi, Honolulu Star-Advertiser] Impact on disabled users, for whom metal, bamboo, and paper substitutes often don’t work as well [Allison Shoemaker, The Takeout] Surprising facts about fishing nets [Adam Minter, Bloomberg, earlier]
- “A closely watched climate case is dismissed; Will the others survive?” [Daniel Fisher on dismissal of San Francisco, Oakland cases] Rhode Island files first state lawsuit, cheered by mass tort veteran Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) [Spencer Walrath/Energy in Depth, Mike Bastasch/Daily Caller]
- Meanwhile back in Colorado: Denver Post, Gale Norton, other voices criticize Boulder, other municipal climate suits [Rebecca Simons, Energy in Depth, earlier here and here]
- Waters of the United States: time to repeal and replace this unconstitutional rule [Jonathan Wood, The Hill, earlier on WOTUS]
- “What you’re talking about is law enforcement for hire”: at least nine state AG offices “are looking to hire privately funded lawyers to work on environmental litigation through a foundation founded by” nationally ambitious billionaire and former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg [Mike Bastasch]
- Department of Justice: we’re going to use that Dear Colleague Title IX letter as a basis for prosecution, and colleges are going to need to crack down on speech if they want to stay in compliance [Eugene Volokh, Scott Greenfield, and FIRE, on University of New Mexico case] A brief history of how we got here from the Dear Colleague letter [Justin Dillon and Matt Kaiser, L.A. Times; my Commentary piece three years ago anticipating the basics] Why won’t even a single university challenge this stuff in court? [Coyote, earlier]
- Dangers of “safe spaces”: Mike Bloomberg’s Michigan commencement address is getting noticed [Bloomberg View, Deadline Detroit, Soave] “Slogans Have Replaced Arguments” [John McWhorter]
- Compulsory chapel will make no provision for adherents of dissenting sects: Oregon State plans training incoming freshmen in “social justice learning,” “diversity,” and “inclusivity.” [Robby Soave]
- Running various departments at George Mason U. along lines recommended by Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”: no problem. Naming law school after Antonin Scalia: that might politicize things [Michael Greve via Bainbridge]
- USC cancels visiting panel of gaming industry stars because it’s all-male [Heat Street]
- Harvard aims sanctions at students who join off-campus, unofficial single-sex clubs [The Crimson, FIRE, background Althouse, Greenfield]
- Margot Honecker, hated DDR education minister, filled schools with indoctrination, informants. Glad that era’s over [Washington Post, Telegraph, SkyNews obituaries]
David Kopel writes that “background check” laws pushed by the Bloomberg anti-gun campaign in states like Colorado and Washington have weird effects, whether intended is not entirely clear, on such topics as safe storage of firearms, the sharing of firearms during informal target shooting, and the legality of handgun possession by 18-21 year olds. This might be a sub-instance of a related problem noted by Glenn Reynolds at USA Today: “Gun-control laws have a tendency of turning into criminals peaceable citizens whom the state has no reason to have on its radar.”
If so, you’d never guess from the result in the Maryland governor’s election, I argue at Cato at Liberty.
Bloomberg’s nanny-in-chief was never the right choice to lead the Centers for Disease Control, much less with an actual epidemic in sight, argues the New York Sun:
…it was the former mayor of New York City who gave the nation Thomas Frieden, who is one dangerous doctor and is the middle of the catastrophe. … Because of the government’s blunders in the Ebola emergency, people are starting to look a harder look at Bloombergism.
… the CDC budget has soared more than 200% since 2000 to $7 billion. The Centers, moreover, are squandering this lucre (which was seized from the American public via taxes) on regulating motorcycle helmets, video games, and playground equipment, as if any of that has anything to do with diseases. No wonder that when Ebola hits, the CDC seems to be staggering….
Mr. Bloomberg is enormously invested in this through the school of public health at Johns Hopkins. Do Americans want a cabal of left-wing, government doctors in Atlanta engineering our playgrounds, motorcycle helmets, and video games? No one plays a video game or rides a motorcycle for his health….
It is important that the Ebola emergency is starting to get people thinking about the first principles of the Centers for Disease Control.
While we’re at it: I’ve got a new post at Cato about the international aspects, including the U.N.’s World Health Organization and Prof. Lawrence Gostin’s article “Healthy Living Needs Global Governance.”
- David Henderson has been blogging excerpts from Dan Okrent’s book on Prohibition, Last Call, including one on the origins of “Raines Law hotels” [Econlog] Also, the “law-abiding” kind of speakeasy; and would polite opinion today, as it did in the 1920s, assail Prohibition enforcement as draconian and intrusive?
- Obstacles to craft brewing [Matthew Mitchell, Christopher Koopman, Mercatus; Michelle Minton/DC Beer]
- Brown U. professor Dwight Heath on why drinking age should be lowered [WJAR]
- Feds go after hobby distillers [Jacob Sullum]
- When a liquor license sells for $425,000, as happened in Boston recently, it’s become virtually a taxi medallion [Ira Stoll]
- Maryland grain alcohol ban tripped up violin restorers, cake pros, craft bitters folk. Gee thanks, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health [WaPo] Much more about the center’s anti-alcohol crusader, David Jernigan [my Free State Notes] Tax dollars have enabled his crusades [Michelle Minton, Baltimore Sun]
- Profile of obscure Treasury Department official who “approves essentially every beer label in the United States” [Tim Mak, Daily Beast; coaster image, Flickr user Roger Wollstadt]
In a 4-2 decision, New York’s highest court agreed with two lower courts that New York City’s attempted ban on sugary drink portions over 16 ounces exceeded the powers of the city’s Department of Health. [Bloomberg News coverage]
That’s exactly in line with what I wrote at earlier stages of the case. At the time, some national commentators did not seem to have checked out the actual reasoning of Judge Milton Tingling’s decision, which rested squarely on a distinctive 1987 New York precedent called Boreali v. Axelrod which had struck down the state health department’s attempt to regulate smoking in public places as beyond its properly delegated authority. The soda case was (as they say) on all fours with Boreali, and although the Court of Appeals could have overturned Boreali, as some academics urged, or found grounds to dodge its effect, as the two dissenters did, the court instead chose to apply the precedent as it stood. That confirms that the Bloomberg-appointed Board of Health, in its eagerness to assert powers not rightly its own, had casually broken the law.
One of the two dissenters was Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, the latest of many indications that he is inclined to pull the Court of Appeals away from many of the positions and habits that have given it a centrist reputation among state courts.