The Manhattan Institute’s overcriminalization project, run by MI’s Jim Copland and Rafael Mangual, has issued five state-by-state reports so far on the issue. Check them out: Oklahoma, Minnesota, South Carolina, Michigan, and North Carolina [last link fixed now].
The North Carolina Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional the state’s recently enacted so-called cyberbullying ban [Scott Greenfield] The court noted that the “statute criminalizes posting online ‘private, personal, or sexual information pertaining to a minor'” even though “these terms are not defined by the statute.” And the definition urged by the state would restrict a potentially wide range of discussion of “personal… information pertaining to a minor,” at least when proceeding from prohibited “intent to intimidate or torment.”
Earlier, New York’s highest court said the similar law in that state could not pass First Amendment muster. And a Eugene Volokh amicus brief challenges Maryland’s cyberbullying law, which I criticized at the time of its passage three years ago.
I’m on the road (Bay Area) and don’t expect to do new postings this week, but to pass the time while I’m away I’ve set the site up to re-run a number of oldie posts on a perennial topic in any legal system, the problem of fraud. It pokes its head in frequently on this site, from the $46,000 damage claim in the Gulf Coast oil spill aftermath that prosecutors say was filed on behalf of a dog, to the occasional stories about persons imprudent enough to enter marathons, bodybuilding contests, and other tests of athletic prowess while drawing full workplace disability or while their soft tissue injury claim from a low-speed auto crash is pending.
Before we turn to the old cases, however, here’s a good one that’s new: “A North Carolina man will spend at least a year in prison after prosecutors said he intentionally caused 12 wrecks, filming many of them on a dashboard camera and uploading the footage to the internet.”
I’ll be returning on or about Friday, July 1, which also represents the anniversary of Overlawyered’s founding on July 1, 1999.
I was hoping/waiting to hear what eminent economist Deirdre McCloskey, born Donald, would have to say about the transgender bathroom flap. Wish granted, thanks to Warren Coats and his blog:
Before I “passed” (surgery, working at it) I was frightened to go into a ladies’ room, but I could hardly go into a men’s room in a dress. You can imagine how dangerous that would be! I was allowed to put Female on my driver’s license in tolerant Iowa in 1995. But you are right that it is unwise in such matters if nothing much is going wrong to stir things up. I’ll bet now that Iowa has rules from the state. Then it was left to Iowans’ ample common sense. My passport F was tougher—I wept to the woman at the New Hampshire passport office, and she relented and sent my passport the day before I was boarding a flight to go to Holland to teach for a year, in January 1996. So the State Department unofficially was cool. A year later I tried to get Harvard to change my degree from Harvard College class of ’64 to the women’s college, Radcliffe. The male dean I spoke to thought not. I whined, “But the State Department had no problem giving me an F passport.” With a smile in his voice he replies, “But Harvard is older than the State Department!”
“There’s more on all this in my memoir of my transition, Crossing: A Memoir (1999 University of Chicago Press).
“The bathroom “issue” is entirely phony. It has never been a problem. Anyway, if men wanted to sneak in (they don’t), they could always have done so, with or without North Carolina’s law. How is it to be enforced? DNA testing by the TSA at every bathroom door? Anyway, your house has a unisex bathroom, I presume, and in Europe they are not entirely uncommon—after all, the stalls have doors. Etc, etc. On both sides it is just a club to beat up the other side in the silly Cultural Wars, and to make people hate and disdain each other. Adam Smith would not have approved.”
Meanwhile, Hans Bader argues that the Obama administration stands on very shaky ground both legally and prudentially in trying to impose a single nationwide set of practices by way of Title IX and funding cutoffs, aside from whether that set of practices is in fact the right one. More: Richard Epstein/Hoover, Roger Pilon/Cato, Robby Soave/Reason, Neal McCluskey (no relation)/Daily Caller, and earlier here and here on the North Carolina law.
Last year…the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education—formed in 2013 at the behest of a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and comprised of top university officials from around the country—released a stunning indictment of what it called the “jungle of red tape” produced by the Education Department. The report cited analysis from George Mason’s Mercatus Center that showed federal higher education mandates increased by 56 percent from 1997-2012.
Today, the situation is bleak: There are thousands of pages of federal regulations, and the Education Department has to release “guidance” letters to clarify vague rules once per day, on average, according to the Task Force.
Case studies from individual schools reveal just how burdensome compliance can be. One example comes from Vanderbilt University, which recently analyzed its federal compliance costs and found that they accounted for $150 million—or 11 percent—of the university’s 2013 expenditures. (Vanderbilt announced that for each student, those compliance costs “equate to approximately $11,000 in additional tuition per year.”)
Earlier here. More from reader mx in comments, who notes that the Chronicle of Higher Education has criticized the Vanderbilt number on the grounds that most of the university’s regulatory costs ($117 million of $146 million) is attributed to compliance related to research, which is not necessarily charged to students as tuition.
- Arizona considers relaxing its law banning potluck meals outside workplace [KPHO]
- Class action says there is starch in McDonald’s mozzarella sticks and wants money for that [Eater]
- Small North Carolina brewer pulls out of one market rather than trigger state law forcing it to deal through licensed distributors [Charlotte Business Journal]
- Speaking of consumer-unfriendly laws that benefit in-state alcohol distributors with political clout, South Carolina considers adding an “at-rest” law to its three-tier regulatory system [Columbia, S.C. Free Times]
- “These decisions are being made by people who are four to five generations removed from food production.” [Oregon rancher Keith Nantz, Washington Post, on federal land policy]
- Freakout memes aside, shed no tears for country-of-origin-labeling on meat [K. William Watson/Cato, Jayson Lusk] “Reign of Terroir: How to Resist Europe’s Efforts to Control Common Food Names as Geographical Indications” [K. William Watson/Cato]
- “Drunk with power — how Prohibition led to big government” [Julia Vitullo-Martin, New York Post reviewing Lisa McGirr, The War On Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State]
…despite the U.S. Department of Justice’s promise to stop seizing bank accounts in future in cases where violations of laws against bank deposit “structuring” (keeping them under the $10,000 reporting threshold) are not connected with any underlying crime, it continues to hold on to money already in the seizure pipeline. That includes the $107,000 grabbed from Lyndon McLellan, who runs L&M Convenience Mart in rural North Carolina, according to the New York Times. “You work for something for 13, 14 years, and they take it in 13, 14 minutes.”
To make matters worse, a “prosecutor wrote menacingly to McLellan’s lawyer about the publicity the case had been getting,” warning that press attention “ratchets up feelings within the agency.”
In June of last year the IRS agreed to drop the charges and return McLellan’s money, and now a federal judge has told the agency to pay the store owner $20,000 for his legal costs, according to my Cato colleague Adam Bates, who has other links and thoughts on the case: “If the government cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person engaged in criminal activity, it should not be able to punish them as if they’re guilty.”
Commenter Gitarcarver on yesterday’s item about how some in the Charlotte Police Department have talked about designating “public safety zones” where persons who have previously been arrested would be forbidden to go:
The City wants to make these zones based on arrests (not convictions.)
At the same time, an employer cannot ask whether a person has been arrested. Of course, there is now the push for “ban the box” which means an employer cannot ask about a conviction.
The City wants to say it can ban people and arrest people from public property, but those private companies can’t even ask about those convictions (much less arrests) during the initial hiring process.
THAT makes sense.
- Mark your calendar: December 1 Cato hosts a policing conference in Washington, D.C.;
- “Note: DOJ thinks flying from Chicago to Los Angeles is suspicious.” Well, no wonder they did a forfeiture then! [@bradheath]
- Mississippi voters on Tuesday returned longtime Attorney General Jim Hood to office by 56-44 margin [Radley Balko; Jackson Clarion-Ledger; earlier Balko on Hood’s spotted record as prosecutor]
- “No! Mine is more unconstitutional!” Police and council in Charlotte, N.C. mull “whether to create ‘public safety zones,’ city areas where people with past arrests would be prohibited from entering.”‘ [Charlotte Observer]
- Harvard lawprof Jeannie Suk on the St. Paul’s sexual assault case and the rapidly changing definition of rape [Jeannie Suk, New Yorker]
- Prison “pay to stay” charges can far exceed any reasonable ability to pay, and few outside the world of ex-offenders “even know it’s happening” [Scott Greenfield]
- “Was it a turf war gone mad? Or a botched police response?” [Nathaniel Penn, GQ, on the Waco biker gang shoot-out, earlier here, here, here]
- “The employees ran away and refused to talk to us…Even if we’re there to help them.” [NYT cheers New York nail salon raids, earlier on paper’s crusade against the salons]
- And now, the Times’s campaign to damn the Amazon: “The Liberty To Work Under Tough Bosses” [John McGinnis]
- Rule by White House decree begins to rile its employer targets: “Defense Contractors to Obama: Enough With the Executive Orders” [Defense One]
- “Lawsuit Reform Alliance Estimates $200m in Additional Costs for LaGuardia Airport Project Due to the ‘Scaffold Law'” [its press release, earlier on law]
- “Mandated Paid Maternity Leave: A Bad Idea for Women” [Abigail Hall, Independent Institute via Alkon, related Peter Suderman on family leave mandates]
- Describing most public assistance programs to working families as subsidy for low-wage employers is “flatly wrong.” [Gary Burtless, Brookings, earlier on such claims, more from Tim Worstall (“McDonald’s Profits Are Not Subsidized By Welfare Payments To McDonald’s Employees”)]
- Wisconsin-style “Moral Monday” protests against North Carolina’s GOP administration have some familiar backing [News and Observer, more on phenomenon from John Locke Foundation]