- Starting in mid-1990s German doctors began writing many more opioid prescriptions. But addiction and overdose rates did not skyrocket. What made Germany different? [Jeffrey Singer, Cato; Jacob Sullum, Reason]
- Will the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Merck v. Albrecht manage to clarify preemption law? [Beck, Drug & Device Law and more; Jonah Knobler, Washington Legal Foundation]
- Money didn’t go into state treasury: “Oklahoma Lawmakers not so Happy About Purdue Pharma Settlement” [Sean Murphy, Insurance Journal, more] “Nevada AG’s old law firm can make up to $350 million on his opioid lawsuit” [Daniel Fisher, Legal Newsline] “List of firms handling Louisiana’s opioid lawsuit balloons to 17, including politically connected ones” [Sam Karlin, The Advocate] Richard Epstein on opiate litigation [Ricochet]
- National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: “Where Calls for Overturning Bruesewitz v. Wyeth Go Wrong” [Dorit Reiss, Petrie-Flom “Bill of Health”]
- “Drug lawsuit ads are scaring seniors to death” [P. Roosevelt Gilliam III and Susan Peschin, STAT]
- Senate Republicans file bill to fast-track FDA consideration of over-the-counter birth control pill [Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
- If you regard Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh as “very decent, very smart individuals,” are tired of party-line confirmation bloc votes, and don’t favor adding to the line-up of nine Justices, you have a co-thinker at the Supreme Court [John McCormack, National Review; Nina Totenberg/NPR interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg]
- “Manhattan federal judges are getting fed up with notorious copyright ‘troll’” [Alison Frankel, Reuters; ABA Journal; Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Richard Liebowitz]
- Idaho, though far from California, still falls under the Ninth Circuit’s distinctive body of law protecting homeless encampments against municipal authority [Steve Malanga, City Journal, earlier here, here]
- “Liability for User-Generated Content Online Principles for Lawmakers” [53 individual and 28 institutional signers including many names and groups familiar in this space; TechFreedom] “Comments on Sen. Hawley’s ‘[Ending] Support for Internet Censorship Act'” [Eric Goldman] And the Missouri senator’s latest: “Josh Hawley Wants To Appoint Himself Product Manager For The Internet” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
- Jury convicts south Texas judge charged with bribery, conspiracy and other crimes [Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro, McAllen Monitor; Fred W. Heldenfels IV, Corpus Christi Caller-Times/Texans for Lawsuit Reform (“The fact that a judge under indictment for accepting bribes can run for higher office and win should be a major red flag for Texans.”)] Michigan Supreme Court removes Livingston County judge over long list of ethical violations, criminal charges also pending [Andy Olesko, Courthouse News]
- “Auction Winner Learns Why Property Was Such a Great Deal: It’s Only 12 Inches Wide” [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar]
Complying with wage and hour law these days is no easy matter, whether you’re Sen. Bernie Sanders or running a California offshore oil platform. I explain why in my new Cato post on Parker Drilling v. Newton, decided by the Supreme Court last month. More on Sen. Sanders’s travails here and here, from my Cato colleague Ryan Bourne.
- “The Supreme Court Should End Pipeline Companies ‘Build First, Pay Later’ Use Of Eminent Domain” [Andrew Wimer, Institute for Justice/Forbes, Robert Thomas, Inverse Condemnation on cert petition in Like v. Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line] Plus: Federalist Society teleforum on pipeline eminent domain battles with Robert J. McNamara of IJ and Peter Tolsdorf of NAM;
- New nuclear format: “Enough communities in Utah and elsewhere have agreed to purchase nuclear power from a small modular reactor planned at the Idaho National Laboratory, triggering a next phase in its development.” [Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News, Idaho National Lab/Energy Department, Adrian Cho/Science Mag]
- “National manufacturers group warns Florida a ‘climate litigation’ target” [John Haughey, Center Square]
- “Transportation Department Proposes New Criminal Thresholds For Anti-Pipeline Protests” [Western Wire, earlier here, here, here, etc.]
- The better to pressure you, my dear: groups demand that California insurers disclose fossil fuel insureds [Insurance Journal]
- “New Orleans coastal lawsuit will kill jobs, critics say” [Bethany Blankley, Center Square Louisiana, earlier]
Multiple free-market and business groups “agree on one thing… With plaintiffs’ lawyers filing thousands of lawsuits a year against businesses with allegedly inaccessible internet operations, it’s time for the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify whether and to what extent the ADA applies to online commerce. The groups all filed amicus briefs [last] Monday, asking the justices to grant a petition for review of a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed a blind Domino’s Pizza customer to sue over the company’s website.” [Alison Frankel, Reuters; Ilya Shapiro and Sam Spiegelman, Cato; Karen Kidd, Legal NewsLine] The circuits are split, with the First, Second, and Seventh interpreting the ADA to require accessibility for web-based services, while the Third, Sixth and Eleventh say it relates to brick-and-mortar enterprise or is satisfied by the provision of at least one accessible way of obtaining service. The Ninth Circuit came out somewhere in between in its ruling against Domino’s. Frankel:
DOJ comes in for considerable flak in Cato’s amicus brief, which described the executive branch’s contortions over ADA website accessibility. As the Cato brief pointed out, DOJ “nearly parodied its confused positions” when it argued in two different amicus briefs that Netflix’s video-streaming service was a public accommodation that should be fully accessible to deaf customers – but that MIT’s online video streaming service was not. “This split-hair legal distinction can have substantial real-life costs on the ground and in the courthouse,” Cato said.
Regulated businesses have been calling for years for a clarification of the confused judicial state of ADA internet law. [John D. McMickle, WLF] Last year, six Senators and 103 members of the House of Representatives sent letters urging the Department of Justice to issue clarifying guidelines as to whether the ADA covers websites, though it might be pointed out that Congress itself holds the power to draft and send to the President legislation to accomplish exactly such clarification. [Kristina Launey, Seyfarth Shaw]
- Cato batted 12-4 in Supreme Court term that saw Kavanaugh agreeing nearly as often with Kagan as with Gorsuch [Ilya Shapiro; another roundup of the recently concluded term from Jonathan Adler]
- Not only is Alan Dershowitz wrong about Supreme Court review of impeachment, he’s wrong in a way that practically invites constitutional crisis [Keith Whittington]
- High court declines certiorari in challenge to Wisconsin butter grading law [Ilya Shapiro and Matt Larosiere, Mark Arnold, Husch Blackwell with update, earlier here and here]
- “The John Marshall Legacy: A Conversation with Richard Brookhiser” [Law and Liberty audio on new biography; Federalist Society panel with Brookhiser, Hon. Kyle Duncan, Hon. Kevin Newsom, and David Rifkin, moderated by Hon. William Pryor]
- I’m quoted on Gundy v. U.S., the improper-delegation case: “While the Court majority did not agree this time, the line-up suggests breakthrough imminent” [Nicole Russell, Washington Examiner] From some quarters on the Left, rage at the Supreme Court that got away [Ilya Shapiro at P.J. O’Rourke online magazine American Consequences]
- “Supreme Court Returns Constitutional Patent Case to Sender” [Gregory Dolin, Cato] on Return Mail v. U.S. Postal Service, earlier on dangers when federal agencies litigate before federal agency tribunals]
For years now regulated parties (which means much of the country) have been waiting urgently for an answer to the question of whether and to what extent the Americans with Disabilities Act requires websites to be made accessible to blind, deaf, and other disabled users. (Coverage of this issue here dates back two decades.) Now the Supreme Court will be asked to review a much-watched case against Domino’s Pizza (earlier) which resulted in a plaintiff’s win before the Ninth Circuit. Four other appeals court rulings have addressed the issue. Will this be the case that finally reaches the high court?
[Frank Cruz-Alvarez and Talia Zucker, Washington Legal Foundation Kristina Launey and Minh Vu/Seyfarth Shaw, January and March posts; J. Gregory Grisham, Federalist Society; Nicole Porter where SCOTUS may be headed on disability issues]
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs into law two doubtfully constitutional bills applying to campuses an overbroad, subjective definition of sexual harassment, and requiring all college employees to report such conduct on pain of criminal penalty [Tyler Coward, FIRE]
- New York adopts workplace harassment law that’s much more speech-hostile than federal, including a dropping of the requirement that prohibited expression be “severe or pervasive” [Hans Bader; Wiggin & Dana, NLR; Douglas Oldham, Barnes & Thornburg]
- One to watch: SCOTUS will decide standard for proving s. 1981 discrimination claims, in case accusing Comcast of bias in not carrying programming of black network [ABA Journal]
- A thumbs-down review: “The Kamala Harris Plan to Address the Gender Pay Gap,” Cato Daily Podcast with Ryan Bourne and Caleb Brown;
- Even when there’s nothing unlawful about an eviction, city bars landlords from telling tenants they’re being evicted for discriminatory reasons. Laws banning truthful business speech about lawful conduct should trip First Amendment review [Ilya Shapiro on Cato amicus brief in Seeberger v. Davenport Civil Rights Commission]
- Second Circuit withdraws decision that held landlords liable for tenant-on-tenant harassment under Fair Housing Act [Scott Greenfield, earlier]
A constitutional wrong to which there is no remedy? For decades the Supreme Court has held severe partisan gerrymandering to be a violation of equal protection, but for just as long it has proved unwilling to convert that holding into any sort of solid remedy. In last year’s Cato Supreme Court Review I described the resulting situation as the “ghost ship of gerrymandering law,” drifting on as precedent, yet abandoned by a majority crew.
Today in Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek Chief Justice Roberts as expected recruited the votes of newcomers Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh for the position identified with Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Antonin Scalia that gerrymandering is a political question to which the Constitution provides no judicial remedy.
If partisan gerrymandering is a substantial evil worth fighting – and I believe it is – we should now get serious about finding that remedy through other means….
Although the Supreme Court in yesterday’s case of Kisor v. Wilkie did not overturn its Auer deference precedent, as Justice Neil Gorsuch and three colleagues wanted it to do, it did adjust the law in a promising direction. Ilya Shapiro explains:
All nine justices agreed that courts need to work harder to ensure that a regulation truly is ambiguous before giving the agency re-interpreting it any sort of deference.
In other words, the Court limited the number of cases where judges defer to agencies, while setting out standards for evaluating those cases that boil down to “when the agency is correct and brings its expertise to bear, having considered the reliance interests of those being regulated” rather than just making legal or political judgment calls willy-nilly. That sounds like reining in the administrative state!…
At bottom, Kavanaugh makes the perfect analogy that sums up the unanimous Court’s position: “Umpires in games at Wrigley Field do not defer to the Cubs manager’s in-game interpretation of Wrigley’s ground rules.” Administrative agencies are now on notice that it’s not “anything goes” when they decide to rewrite their own rules, that judges will hold their feet to the statutory fire.
In short, while Kisor didn’t overturn Auer, it represents a pretty good start at limiting executive-agency overreach….