- Keeping prosecutors busy? Georgia lawmaker files bill that would make Internet defamation a crime [Fulton County Daily Report]
- Sarkozy calls for law banning visits to pro-terror websites [Ken Paulson, First Amendment Center]
- “Ron Paul Campaign Drops Effort To Identify Anonymous Videographer” [Paul Alan Levy]
- Playboy caused how many divorces? Junk science in the service of big-government conservatism [Andrew Stuttaford, NRO] How Santorum’s plans to get porn off internet go beyond GWB’s [Josh Barro] Contra Santorum, “arrival of Internet was associated with reduction in rape incidence” [Steve Chapman]
- “Brian Deer and the British Medical Journal File An Anti-SLAPP Motion Against Andrew Wakefield” [Popehat]
- Iowa passes law penalizing animal rightsers who spy on farms [Reuters, earlier] Illinois turns thumbs down on “ag-gag” proposal [Steve Chapman]
- “What’s happened to free speech in Britain?” [Alex Massie, John O’Sullivan/NRO, earlier here and others]
“Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s campaign committee sued the unidentified makers of a video attacking ex-Republican rival Jon Huntsman claiming it falsely implies it was made or endorsed by the Texas congressman.” [Bloomberg] Paul Alan Levy contends that Rep. Paul, a longtime civil liberties advocate, should know better than to advance arguments that would if accepted narrow the legal protections afforded to anonymous political speech.
On Friday there was a noteworthy development on CPSIA: Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) sent a letter to Nancy Nord, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, endorsing some softenings in the law’s regulatory interpretation, which seems to represent a modest shift (if not an admitted one) from their earlier position. At the same time, Waxman, Rush et al held the line against any demand to revise the law itself, despite the outcry being heard from small producers, retailers and secondhand sellers across the country (more: my recent Forbes piece, some reactions).
On the same day they sponsored a closed-door briefing for Hill staffers which was billed as correcting supposed misreporting and confusion about the law and its onerousness. Such briefings are common when members’ offices are being hit by a torrent of constituent inquiries and want to know how to respond.
An editor at a large publication has asked me to write something about these new developments, so I’ll be working on that piece over the next day or two. In the mean time, let me recommend as a good place to start two excellent blog posts by Rick Woldenberg of Learning Resources Inc. (first, second).
The first post responds to the apparent new strategy of Waxman and Co. of proposing to exempt a couple of categories of generally safe products (ordinary children’s books, fabric-only garments with no plastic or metal fasteners) in the apparent hope that 1) Congress will look like it’s reasonable and “trying to do something”; 2) a few of the more visible (and politically salient) critics of CPSIA will be placated, at least for the moment. (One might add a third objective, whether consciously formulated or not: running the clock until Feb. 10 in the expectation that many of those protesting will at that point be out of the game — no longer in the kids’ product business — and so in less of a position to cause them political mischief.)
I’ve got a new opinion piece up at Forbes.com on one of the worst pieces of legislation I’ve seen in many a year, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, and the need to repeal it before it capsizes tens of thousands of small businesses:
Hailed almost universally on its passage last year–it passed the Senate 89 to three and the House by 424 to one, with Ron Paul the lone dissenter–CPSIA is now shaping up as a calamity for businesses and an epic failure of regulation, threatening to wipe out tens of thousands of small makers of children’s items from coast to coast, and taking a particular toll on the handcrafted and creative, the small-production-run and sideline at-home business, not to mention struggling retailers. How could this have happened?
P.S. The piece as first posted included a Vermont publication’s quote attributed to David Arkush of Public Citizen; that organization almost immediately wrote in to point out that Arkush has disavowed the quote in question, so I substituted a different one. The conversation at Greco Woodcrafting tracing the matter is well worth a close look.
- Monday’s polar bear panel at AEI is a panel about the law of polar bears and the effect of the FWS decision to list them as threatened, rather than a panel featuring polar bears. So no fish will be served. Volokh’s Jonathan Adler will be there, though. [Volokh; AEI]
- Limiting lawsuit abuses lowers costs from litigation, creates jobs in long run. [Engler & McQuillan @ Detroit News]
- HBO to small businesses: prepositions are okay, but conjunctions will lead to injunctions. [Baltimore Sun]
- A one-sided love letter to Cozen O’Connor in the Philadelphia Inquirer over its September 11 litigation is a bit too revealing about its deep-pocket searches: “Cozen lawyers also had to be sure that such a defendant made financial sense, for the firm and its clients.” Culpability, of course, isn’t in the equation; and the newspaper story fails to account for the public-policy implications of having trial lawyers stepping on foreign policy. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
- Life imitates “The Office”: law firm offers “love contracts” for dating workers. [ABA Journal]
- More evidence of FDA overwarning, even when the science and law does not justify it. [Kyle Sampson @ Product Liability Law 360]
- Business tries to bully small website with litigation; small website successfully fights back. [CL&P Blog]
- “[Ron] Paul accomplished the one thing he’s always been good at: using political appeals to get people to send money. I don’t feel freer.” [Henley via Kirkendall]
- “It’s infuriating how all three presidential candidates prattle on about the need to fight global warming while also complaining about the high price of gasoline.” [Postrel]
- Story on Vioxx settlement and Merck winning reversals heavily quotes me. [Product Liability Law 360 ($)]
I’ve been speaking up against Ron Paul privately amongst my libertarian friends in DC, and now I’m mad at myself that I wasn’t doing so more publicly before the “revelations” of the open secret.
- “What you will not see in the findings of this bill, where politicians typically describe the problem they intend to solve, is any evidence that arbitration harms consumers or anyone else.” [WSJ]
- You saw it first on Overlawyered (Jun. 9; Jul. 20; Sep. 14): “Plaintiffs Lawyers in ‘Blood Feud’ Over Fees From $2 Billion Settlement” [American Lawyer]
- Junk science verdict against Dole Pineapple and Dow Chemical over pesticide use. [Cal Biz Lit]
- Alabama Supreme Court points out that good-faith contract dispute does not merit multi-billion-dollar punitive damages. [Birmingham News; Marketwatch; Exxon v. Alabama via Alabama Appellate Watch via Bashman]
- Still more Montgomery Blair Sibley follies. [Legal Times]
- The latest farm follies. [Postrel; Mair; Rauch]
- Why Ron Paul is a crank [Frum]