- Critique of political-spending provisions of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposals on corporate governance [Prof. Bainbridge] Plus, some WSJ letters on her plan [same; earlier here, here, and here]
- “The Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on Small Business” [Michael D. Bordo and John V. Duca, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy]
- Something to keep in mind in New York Attorney General races: “The Martin Act Gives New York Politicians Way Too Much National Power” [Jeff Patch, Real Clear Markets, and thanks for quotes]
- Through its Charities Bureau the New York AG’s office can also make life difficult for private nonprofits of whose ideology it disapproves; Democratic nominee Letitia (Tish) James says she intends to use the power to go after crisis pregnancy centers and NRA [Zach Williams, City And State NY]
- Treasury based a list of supposed Russian oligarchs on Forbes mag list of wealthy Russians. Now a 79-year-old laser scientist faces sanctions who’s been a U.S. citizen for 10 years and says he isn’t friendly with Putin [Steven Mufson, Washington Post]
- “Why California’s Gender Quota Bill [for corporate boards] Is More Likely To Be Unconstitutional Than California’s Pseudo-Foreign Corporation Statute” [Keith Paul Bishop, California Corporate & Securities Law (Allen Matkins)]
The great scholar Richard Pipes, known above all for his work on Russia and the Bolshevik Revolution, has died at 94. In 1999 I favorably reviewed his book on property as an institution, Property and Freedom: The Story of How through the Centuries Private Ownership Has Promoted Liberty and the Rule of Law. I’ve got a new post at Cato pulling together a few highlights of his work on property, along with miscellaneous links.
After Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California pressured its general counsel at a hearing, Google de-ranked the Russian state media enterprise RT in its search results. As a private company, Google would have been within its rights to arrive at such a decision for reasons of its own. But for it to do so in response to government pressure, as appears to have happened here, poses very real First Amendment problems [John Samples, Cato]
You’ve probably seen the “Donald Trump represented on ethics issue by Russian law firm of the year” story. And if you paid it only fleeting attention, you may not have recognized it as a classic instance of outrage clickbait fluff.
The firm turns out to be the venerable and far-flung firm of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, eighth largest in the U.S. and thirteenth largest in the world, per the American Lawyer rankings. Sheri Dillon, a tax specialist associated with Morgan’s Washington, D.C. office, was on hand at the press conference to assist Trump in his presentation on conflict of interest avoidance. Typical of BigLaw firms, Morgan employs much high-level legal talent — Texas Senator Ted Cruz practiced there — and represents all sorts of figures in public life and the political world. Not unusually for a world BigLaw leader, Morgan has an office in Moscow among its dozens of other offices worldwide; that outpost won plaudits for its success by one private group that rates lawyers.
As Snopes soon found, “Donald Trump is not the only high-level politician to have engaged the services of Morgan Lewis. In October 2016, Hillary Clinton used the firm” to help vet potential appointees. The Barack Obama campaign also used Morgan’s services.
Outfits that saw fit to treat this tale as important news included CNN, The Daily Beast, The Week (“Just let that sink in for a second”), The Independent, and many more. In some cases, publications circled back with rewrites as word began to get out that it might be sort of a non-story after all: whatever interesting connections there might be between Trump and Russia, this wasn’t one of them. In the meantime, the story had gotten countless thousands of outrage-shares.
For a somewhat similar instance of randomly connecting BigLaw dots in a wildly misleading way that failed to go viral — it concerned the firm of Sutherland, Asbill, and Brennan, also known for its tax expertise — see this 2013 post.
- Marcia Narine on D.C. Circuit’s recent ruling striking down part of Dodd-Frank conflict mineral disclosure rule [Business Law Prof]
- More on suit challenging constitutionality of FATCA, the law complicating many expatriates’ lives [Paul Mirengoff, PowerLine]
- “Jury Will Put A Price On Terrorism — And Stick A Bank With The Bill” [Daniel Fisher, Reuters on Arab Bank settlement]
- Operation Choke Point: “How a program meant to stamp out fraud has put a stranglehold on legitimate industries” [Reason TV video, AmmoLand on markup of Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s anti-Choke-Point Financial Institution Customer Protection Act]
- Federal Reserve’s denial of core banking services to Colorado cannabis businesses: consistent with its authorizing statutes? [George Selgin/Cato, related from me on RICO suit against bankers, bonders, and others interacting with the industry]
- “A financial system based not on … charging interest for lending … but on traditional social values”: Russia’s Orthodox Church backs interest-avoiding finance system akin to Islamic sharia finance [Bloomberg, Moscow Times]
- Two popular views in tension with each other: “Wall Street = short term thinking” and “Wall Street spins meager current earnings into bubbles” [Kevin Erdmann via Tyler Cowen]
- Setting up as a freelance investigative writer? Getting insurance even for your office rental can be tricky [Romenesko]
- Among many curious Virginia blue laws: “‘any citizen … may institute’ judicial review of any book.” [Barton Hinkle]
- Whether Rupert Murdoch can buy the L.A. Times shouldn’t depend on which party holds power in Washington [Stoll, Future of Capitalism]
- “Publisher launches $3,000,000 suit against academic librarian who criticized its books” [BoingBoing, Edwin Mellen Press] “Alternative” cancer treatment entrepreneur threatens to sue dissatisfied patient [Jardin, BB]
- EU: Let’s regulate journalists [Morrissey] Russia law against pro-gay “propaganda” is part of wider speech crackdown [AP]
- Twitter’s relatively laissez-faire speech policy has advanced its success [Greg Beato]
- “Free Speech on Campus Today” [Cato podcast with FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff]
- Forbids writing about him ever again: “Judge says US-based reporter defamed Haiti’s PM” [AP/Gainesville Sun]
- Federal taxpayers via National Cancer Institute grant dished out more than a million dollars to pay for laughable conspiracy-theory report smearing Tea Party [Hans Bader, more, Jacob Sullum on report from Stanton Glantz, whom we’ve often met before] “Rather than [being] a spontaneous popular phenomenon, opposition to the tea parties was nurtured by the government.” [@RameshPonnuru]
- Ken on why the relentless overuse of the epithet “bullying” gets on his (and my) nerves [Popehat; Clark at Popehat on New York police chiefs who feel bullied because someone won’t sell them guns]
- On immigration, advocates of liberty can’t afford to ignore the future-polity angle [Eugene Volokh; Ilya Somin with a response]
- More on that wretched State of the Union retread, the Paycheck Fairness Act [Hans Bader, Ted Frank, 2009 DoL study, earlier here, here, here, here, here, etc.] Other dud SOTU ideas: federally paid universal preschool [Andrew Coulson, related, more, related on minority kids’ results, yet more, Neal McCluskey on public infant care, Tyler Cowen] minimum wage hike [Chris Edwards, Veronique de Rugy]
- Woman sues fitness club over “sexually suggestive” exercises [CBS Dallas]
- Silent witness: undeveloped state of law, police, insurance contribute to widespread Russian use of dashboard cams [WaPo]
- Would-be assassin came dressed as postman: Danish free-speech advocate Lars Hedegaard interviewed [Spectator]
From Reason.tv, and new to us, at least, if not exactly new, with vignettes on reef reconstruction, ethanol subsidies, and child health insurance (via Hodak Value). And from Mark Perry, “Some Great Examples of Unintended Consequences from Wikipedia’s Listing for ‘Perverse Incentives.'” An example, from an economics text by James Gwartney and Richard Stroup:
In the former Soviet Union, managers and employees of glass plants were at one time rewarded according to the tons of sheet glass produced. Not surprisingly, most plants produced sheet glass so thick that one could hardly see through it. The rules were changed so that the managers were rewarded according to the square meters of glass produced. The results were predictable. Under the new rules, Soviet firms produced glass so thin that it was easily broken.
Don’t miss the rat-farming and dinosaur-bone examples, either.
- Uh-huh: new report from federal Legal Services program calls for gigantic new allocation of tax money to, well, legal services programs [ABA Journal]
- “Judge: Man’s a ‘vexatious litigator'” [Cincinnati.com]
- Wisconsin governor signs bill requiring prescription to buy mercury thermometer [Popehat]
- “Injured by art?” Woman sues Museum of Fine Arts Houston after fall in artist-designed light tunnel [Mary Flood, Houston Chronicle “Legal Trade”]
- On Carol Browner and the cry of “environmental racism” (a/k/a “green redlining”) [Coyote]
- New York: “Lawyers implicated in $9 million mortgage fraud” [Business Insider]
- In Canada, as in the U.S., medical privacy rules hamper police investigations [Calgary Herald]
- Stalin’s grandson loses lawsuit in Russia against newspaper that supposedly defamed the dictator [WSJ Law Blog, Lowering the Bar, Volokh]