- My comment on the House-passed H.R. 5: “Proposed Equality Act would 1) massively expand federal liability in areas unrelated to sex, gender, or orientation; 2) turn 1000s of routine customer gripes into federal public-accommodations cases; 3) squeeze conscience exemptions hard. All are good reasons to oppose.” More: Scott Shackford, Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Hans Bader, and earlier here and here;
- America is not in a constitutional crisis: “Politicians have become incentivized to declare constitutional crises because it enhances their own importance as saviors and demonizes their opponents as illegitimate.” [Keith Whittington; Vox mini-symposium with Ilya Somin and others] Mike McConnell vs. Josh Chafetz on whether the current Congressional subpoena fights are really that different from politics of the past [Jonathan Adler] Calm, down-the-middle analysis of the issues raised by the Mueller report [Cato Institute chairman Bob Levy]
- “Mercedes Goes To Court To Get Background Use Of Public Murals In Promotional Pics Deemed Fair Use” [Timothy Geigner]
- Bizarro sovereign-citizen notions are found in the background of more than a few serious financial fraud cases [Ashley Powers, New York Times]
- Divestment and sanctions by state governments aimed at other U.S. states is a bad idea that never seems to go away. Now it’s being floated in Maryland, against Alabama [my Free State Notes post]
- “A federal judge in Texas wants you to know she’s sick and tired of whiny lawyers” [Justin Rohrlich, Quartz from December, Brad Heath on Twitter; Align Technology v. ClearCorrect, Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore]
- “Banana Costume Copyright Assailed at Third Circuit” [Emilee Larkin, Courthouse News, earlier]
- In a new piece for The Bulwark, I sort through some comments by presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg critical of identity politics;
- Supreme Court’s decision in Apple v. Pepper, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining four liberals, takes a little nick out of Illinois Brick doctrine limiting antitrust suits [my new Cato post]
- Ninth Circuit will soon hear case in which judge ordered Idaho prison system to provide inmate with transgender surgery; I’m quoted saying lower court decision amounted to battle of the experts [Amanda Peacher, NPR/KBSX, plus followup piece (“medical necessity” not a fixed standard, definitions of cruel and unusual punishment hitched in some ways to public opinion) and NPR “Morning Edition”; audio clip]
- “The Moral Panic Behind Internet Regulation” [Matthew Lesh, Quillette] “A Single Global Standard for Internet Content Regulation Is a Recipe for Censorship” [Jacob Mchangama, Quillette] And Jonah Goldberg on right-wing rage at social media platform moderation;
- Some politicos in Britain engage in “‘karaoke Thatcherism’, preaching low-tax, low-regulation mantras divorced from new challenges or detail,” then falling for truly bad ideas like laws to assure real estate tenants indefinite tenure against owners’ wishes [Ryan Bourne]
My new post at Cato covers the Supreme Court’s decision to resolve three cases in which it is argued that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act bans private workplace discrimination against gay and transgender employees. I cite a 2017 Seventh Circuit showdown on the question between Judges Richard Posner and Diane Sykes: “These philosophical divides on statutory interpretation — which of course play out every term in lower-profile cases — are likely to be on the Court’s mind next fall.” More: Jared Odessky, On Labor (rounding up commentary).
NBC picked up and ran with a study it said showed same-sex couples face mortgage discrimination — except that the study showed no such thing. My new Cato post explains.
I’ve posted before about our July Cato conference on adoption, pluralism, and children’s interests. Now Cato’s bimonthly Policy Report has published highlights of the panel on anti-discrimination law and religious agencies, with speakers including Stephanie Barclay of BYU, Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign, Robin Fretwell Wilson of the University of Illinois, and me.
One of my comments about pluralism and freedom in the system: “When I began reading about adoption, I realized for about the umpteenth time how glad I was to live in America.” Not that the system isn’t full of problems: on the grueling 26-year litigation in the New York City foster care case, Wilder v. Bernstein, see this 2011 piece of mine.
More kids find homes when government doesn’t stand in the way: videos are now online from Thursday’s successful Cato adoption conference. They include a first panel on discrimination law and religious agencies:
A keynote address on international adoption by Harvard law Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet:
And a final panel on policy obstacles to adoption.
I figure in all three sessions, in the first as introducer/panelist and in the other two as moderator.
Three years ago I took a critical view of the trend in many states and cities toward excluding from publicly funded adoptive placement of kids in public care relatively conservative religious agencies that decline to handle placements to families outside their belief group, to non-traditional families such as same-sex couples and single parents, or both. In recent years the ACLU and like-minded groups have stepped up the pressure with lawsuits in states like Michigan aimed at excluding these groups from access to public money unless they take all kinds of families.
Now a bill called the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 1881/S.B. 811), passed by the House of Representatives as a rider on the pending Labor/HHS appropriations bill, would prohibit states from taking adverse action against foster care and adoption agencies on the grounds that they refuse to engage in referrals, placements or other services that conflict with their religious or moral convictions. States found to have violated the rule would be subject to loss of 15 percent of their federal child welfare funding. The rule broadly prohibits “discriminating or taking an adverse action against” agencies and would give agencies broad legal remedies including attorneys’ fees.
I haven’t had a chance yet to review all the details of the bill, which in any case would need approval of the Senate and President before becoming law. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (ERLC) and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have papers in favor of the measure and Human Rights Campaign against.
In the mean time a well reported, balanced piece by Gillian Friedman on the controversy mentions tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) Cato conference in D.C. on adoption policy [Deseret News; more/related, Bobby Ross, Jr., Religion News Service in March] The panel on this subject leads off the conference, and includes Assistant Professor Stephanie Barclay of the J. Reuben Clarke School of Law at Brigham Young University; Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director at the Human Rights Campaign; Prof. Robin Fretwell Wilson of the University of Illinois College of Law; and me.
Roger Pilon and I join Caleb Brown in This Cato podcast assessing the 30-year tenure of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who usually reached sound outcomes but often not by the reasoning we might have liked. Among the topics discussed: the gay rights cases, Kennedy’s change of tune on enumerated powers, and his authorship of Citizens United.
It’s okay to view “conversion therapy” as worthless quackery yet still have misgivings about the government banning it, I argue [Free State Notes]
- Minimum 18 age for marriage, stadium subsidies, bill requiring landlords to distribute voter registration material, dollar-home programs, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes; earlier on NJ first-in-nation ban on under-18 marriage]
- Now shuttered by California regulation: startup that allowed home cooks to sell meals directly to neighbors [Baylen Linnekin]
- Guess who’s hosting a program of his own on Russia’s RT network? Tub-thumping plaintiff’s lawyer, sometime RFK Jr. pal and longtime Overlawyered favorite Michael Papantonio;
- “Should the governments give LGBT-owned businesses a leg up in public contracts?” (Answer: no. Set-asides and preferences are unfair in themselves and deprive taxpayers and those served of the best price/value proposition.) [Bobby Allyn, NPR Marketplace]
- “Network effects” bogeyman gets deployed to bolster many an antitrust nostrum [David S. Evans and Richard Schmalensee, Cato “Regulation”] “The Future of Antitrust” Federalist Society video with Ronald Cass, Daniel Crane, Judge Douglas Ginsburg, Jonathan Kanter, Barry Lynn, moderated by Judge Brett Kavanaugh;
- Arguments fated to lose: “After 4th DWI, man argues legal limit discriminates against alcoholics” [Chuck Lindell, Austin American-Statesman]