Posts Tagged ‘on TV and radio’

Civics 101 podcast: “How to Amend the Constitution”

I joined Virginia Prescott for episode 4 of the interesting Civics 101 podcast series, hosted by New Hampshire Public Radio, this one covering the Article V constitutional amendment process. You can also find it at NPR and AudioBoom. Description:

It’s been 25 years since the last constitutional amendment was ratified. How hard is it to change our most sacred document? We discover that there are not one, but two ways to amend the constitution – and one of them has never been used. Walter Olson, senior fellow of the Cato Institute explains that the founders didn’t exactly spell the process out clearly.

February 22 roundup

  • “Freedom of Association Takes Another Hit” as Washington high court rules against florist Barronelle Stutzman [Roger Pilon, Ilya Shapiro, earlier]
  • Aside from chipping away at the rule of law, job preservation via presidential threats may not work well as an economic development strategy [David Henderson]
  • NYC cops shot burglar in rear end and now he wants $10 million over that [New York Post]
  • Granting certiorari in Blackman v. Gascho case would allow Supreme Court to tackle fee abuses in class actions [Ted Frank, Daniel Fisher, earlier]
  • Will competing versions be introduced of FADA, the religious-exemption First Amendment Defense Act? [Jessica Yarvin/PBS, I’m quoted; my take on the first introduced version of the bill]
  • I talked Sunday with Maryland-based blog radio hosts Ryan Miner and Eric Beasley on topics that included the Gorsuch nomination, Chevron deference, doctor-assisted suicide, and redistricting reform [BlogTalkRadio, one of my longer audio interviews at 1:12:00]

Last week’s debate: Article V convention to propose constitutional amendments

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Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of appearing at the Intelligence Squared debate series before a New York audience on the topic: “Call a Convention to Amend the Constitution.” Under the series rules, whichever side advances its audience approval ahead more from the original baseline wins. Over the course of the debate, our negative side advanced our side by 21 points, compared with 10 for the affirmative of Prof. Larry Lessig and Mark Meckler. The IQ2 hosts congratulated us on a convincing victory (my ally was Prof. David Super). Probably the only time in my life a camera has caught me doing a high five!

The debate page includes a live transcript of the event, research papers and other resources. The IQ2 series also has selected several clips of highlights of the debate including this one on whether small and large states would have the same vote at a convention. The 2012 Mike Rappaport paper for Cato that I refer to in my closing remarks is here, and I’ve covered Article V convention proposals here and here (and more generally.)

On Monday of last week Prof. Larry Lessig and I joined Brian Lehrer’s much-listened-to WNYC radio talk show to discuss the issue. Listen here:

Debating a constitutional convention this week

New York listeners: I’m scheduled to be a guest on Brian Lehrer’s popular WNYC radio show tomorrow (Monday) morning, probably 10:30 a.m. or so, debating famed Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig on the topic of a convention to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. (Lessig supports that idea, I’m skeptical). That’s a foretaste of the live Intelligence Squared debate that will follow on Wednesday, in which two other debaters will be joining us, Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance joining Lessig for the affirmative and Georgetown law professor David Super joining me for the negative.

In Albany talking New York’s lawsuit mess

I joined Thomas Stebbins and host Liz Patterson on Wednesday to discuss municipal liability on New York Time Warner Cable’s Capital Tonight, with the conversation reaching such perennial Overlawyered topics as trees and playgrounds. I was in Albany to keynote (and sign books at) the annual meeting of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, which Stebbins directs; my talk mentioned the recent Saratoga County case in which an adult woman sued her brother after a trampoline injury, Ralph Nader’s Museum of American Tort Law, and many other topics.

The $720 million that New York City paid out in judgments and claims in fiscal 2016 amounts to more than the payouts of the next 19 biggest cities combined, writes Thomas Stebbins in a piece for the Progressive Policy Institute based on a new Governing magazine article by Mike Maciag on the burdens of municipal liability. (Four of the nation’s 24 biggest cities did not respond to the Governing survey and are not included in the calculation.) Trial lawyers’ political clout in New York — which has preserved such throwbacks as the notorious “scaffold law” in construction — is a prime reason, and it doesn’t help that the state’s highest court has begun regularly handing down verdicts driving the law in a pro-plaintiff direction. While serious police brutality suits are only too common in the city, flimsy ones are too:

In past years, New York often agreed to pay out small settlements just to make cases go away. Elizabeth Daitz, who heads the police department’s legal unit, says it got to the point to where protesters would taunt police officers at rallies, telling them about settlements they’d received and threatening to sue again. One settlement in early 2015 drew particular ire from officials. A man wielding a machete had threatened police officers and was shot in the leg during an altercation; the man then accused the police of wrongdoing. The city agreed to a $5,000 settlement, even though the man had plead guilty to menacing an officer. Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to make changes. “Unfortunately, the reality is, if we stand and fight, we will be spending a lot of time in court, using up a lot of lawyers, and it will cost a lot of money,” he told reporters after the settlement was announced. “But it’s worth it to end the madness of these frivolous lawsuits, which are not fair to the city, and not fair to the officers involved.”

One favorable trend for New York City: payouts by its Health and Hospitals Corporation declined somewhat after the city put the entity in charge of its own legal cases.

October 19 roundup

  • “Nobody wanted to vote ‘against’ 9/11 families in an election year.” Which led to a series of absurd consequences when Congress took up Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA [Lowering the Bar, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • Cute: animal rights group ambushes Orthodox with legal action on eve of Yom Kippur [Scott Greenfield citing Josh Blackman account]
  • “Can U.S. Presidents Much Affect the U.S. Economy?” If so, it might be through regulatory burdens [David Henderson]
  • Suit had much publicity but nearer to zero merit: Connecticut judge dismisses suit against gun manufacturer over Sandy Hook school shooting, citing PLCAA (Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act) [Hartford Courant]
  • Did spate of violation-finding against local property owner proceed from retaliatory motives? “Councilman Says California City Used Code Enforcement as Payback” [Lompoc, Calif.; Matt Powers, Institute for Justice]
  • Local man discusses third parties’ role in the national election [Frederick News-Post podcast, 37:09, I’m interviewed by reporters Danielle Gaines and Jeremy Bauer-Wolf; related article]

Cato panel on the Games That Must Not Be Named

On Wednesday I took part in a panel discussion on the intellectual property issues associated with media commentary on the Olympics, which enjoy a distinctively favorable IP regime: a 1978 federal law gives the U.S. Olympic Committee stronger rights over the word “Olympics” than it would get under ordinary trademark law, including wider scope to go after parody and other situations that will sometimes arguably be fair use. Other panelists include Cato’s Julian Sanchez and Jim Harper, and the moderator was Cato’s Kat Murti. The audience Q&A included a question from noted media law attorney Paul Alan Levy. You can watch here: