“The rational basis test is hard to fail, says the Middle District of Tennessee, but Tennessee’s policy of rescinding the driver’s licenses of people who fail to pay criminal fines and fees is up — or maybe down — to the task.” [John K. Ross, IJ “Short Circuit,” on Robinson v. Purkey; Dave Boucher, Nashville Tennesseean]
- Prisoners die of drug overdoses at a high rate in their first week after release. That’s in part a prohibition-related problem [Jeffrey Miron, Cato]
- “Drug testing kits can detect the presence of fentanyl and other contaminants — but in many places, including Illinois, they are classified as illegal drug paraphernalia.” [Steve Chapman]
- “Hospitalized Patients Are Civilian Casualties in the Government’s War on Opioids” [Jeffrey A. Singer, Cato, more]
- Texas: “Opioid lawyers pumped $110K into LaHood’s campaign after Bexar County DA hired them” [David Yates, Southeast Texas Record] “State senator working with Watts on home turf opioid lawsuit, lawyers billing Hidalgo County $3,800 an hour” [SE Texas Record]
- “Cities Vs. States: A Looming Battle For Control Of High-Stakes Opioid Litigation” [Daniel Fisher on Tennessee AG’s intervention]
- All 50 states have now adopted prescription drug monitoring programs, but do they work as intended? [Jeffrey Singer, Jacob Sullum]
“The Latest On Occupational Licensing Reform: At the federal level and in the state of Michigan, there have been encouraging moves toward market liberalization.” [Thomas A. Hemphill and Jarrett Skorup, Cato Regulation mag] Related: George Leef, Regulation (reviewing “Bottleneckers” by William Mellor and Dick M. Carpenter II). “Florida Lawmakers Are Fast-Tracking Licensing Reforms” [Boehm] “But sadly Elias Zarate is no closer to being a barber, because he still doesn’t have a high school diploma. And, yes, that matters for some reason.” [same] “Inside the Insane Battle Over Arizona’s Blow-Dry Licensing Bill” [same] “Tennessee has imposed nearly $100K in fines for unlicensed hair braiding since 2009” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal] Licensing bars on applicants with criminal histories, often related hardly at all to the risks of crime in licensed occupations, make re-entry of offenders harder [Arthur Rizer and Shoshana Weissmann, The Blaze] A Twitter thread on board certification of music therapists, which are licensed in 10 states [Shoshana Weissmann et al.] Study: “optician licensing appears to be reducing consumer welfare by raising the earnings of opticians without enhancing the quality of services delivered to consumers.” [Edward J Timmons and Anna Mills, Eastern Economic Journal]
“In Memphis, an entrenched legal culture has made bankruptcy a boon for attorneys while miring clients in a cycle of futility.” [Paul Kiel with Hannah Fresques, ProPublica/The Atlantic]
Under federal bankruptcy law, people overwhelmed by debt have a choice: They can either file under Chapter 7, which wipes out debts and, since most filers lack significant assets, allows them to keep what little they have. Or they can choose Chapter 13, which usually requires five years of payments to creditors before any debts are eliminated, but blocks foreclosures and car repossessions as long as debtors can keep up. In most of the country, Chapter 7 is the overwhelming choice. Only in the South, in a band of states stretching from North Carolina to Texas, is Chapter 13 predominant….
Upon filing, debtors are shielded from garnishments and debt collectors. But whereas under Chapter 7 those protections are generally made permanent after a few months, under Chapter 13 they last only as long as payments are made. Most Chapter 13 filers in Memphis don’t last a year, let alone five.
The two options have a different structure of legal fees. While Memphis lawyers typically charge around $1,000 for a Chapter 7, most offer a Chapter 13 for free. “Ultimately, the fees for Chapter 13 filings are higher — upwards of $3,000 — but the payments are stretched over time.” Now, the no-money-down model of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is spreading to Northern states. But there is another point of view as well: “many see Chapter 13 as the more honorable form of bankruptcy because it includes some attempt to repay debts.”
- Entrepreneurs launch plaintiff’s insurance to cover costs of pursuing litigation, not quite same thing as the “legal expense insurance” commonly found in loser-pays jurisdictions [ABA Journal]
- More on the class action procedure case Microsoft v. Baker, from the just-ended Supreme Court term [Federalist Society podcast with Ted Frank, earlier]
- Why Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Supreme Court case on state court jurisdiction, “is one of the most important mass tort/product liability decisions ever” [James Beck/Drug & Device Law, earlier]
- Sandy Hook massacre: “Newtown And Board Of Education Seek Dismissal Of Wrongful Death Lawsuit” [AP/CBS Connecticut]
- Pennsylvania: “Evidence-Manipulation Claims Dog Asbestos Lawyer” [Lowell Neumann Nickey, Courthouse News] “California’s Latest Litigation Invitation: A Duty to Protect Against ‘Take-Home’ Exposure” [Curt Cutting, WLF]
- It’s almost as if trial lawyers were in the driver’s seat of these ostensibly public actions: Tennessee counties’ opioids suit also seeks to strike down the state’s tort reform law [Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville News-Sentinel]
Sent to us by John Ross of the peerless Short Circuit: “Man takes unknown drug he ordered online, reports to work. He’s uncommunicative, ‘slow’ and told to call it a day. He drives home and gets into an accident. Did his employer have a duty to stop him from driving? Tennessee Court: No.” [Thompson v. Best Buy Stores, Nov. 28]
Once again some advocates are advancing what they see as gun rights at the expense of the general rights of private property and contract. This time it’s a new state law that “allows any Tennessean with a valid gun permit to sue a property owner in the event of injury or death provided the incident occurred while in a gun-free zone.” More specifically, the “legislation places responsibility on the business or property owner of the gun-free area to protect the gun owner from any incidents that occur with any ‘invitees,’ trespassers and employees found on the property, as well as vicious and wild animals and ‘defensible man-made and natural hazards.'” The bill excludes situations where the law itself imposes the status of “gun-free zone,” but includes situations in which a Tennessee business adopts the status in order to follow the policy of its corporate owner or franchisor.
Traditional Anglo-American law grants to a property owner as a matter of course not only the right to exclude guns, but also to ask of customers and other invitees that, as a condition of their visit, they agree to assume the risk of some “defensible hazards” contemplated by the law, such as harm occasioned by roaming wild animals. Is it too much to ask that gun advocates promote the actual rights prescribed by the Second Amendment against government infringement — which certainly could use promotion right now — rather than infringe traditional individual property and contract liberties by inventing spurious new gun “rights”? [Tennessean via Bearing Arms] Earlier on laws restricting property owners’ rights to set rules against guns in parking lots here, here, here, here, related Roger Pilon at Cato, and, also with coverage of “off-duty conduct” as a protected class in discrimination law, here.
Last year…the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education—formed in 2013 at the behest of a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and comprised of top university officials from around the country—released a stunning indictment of what it called the “jungle of red tape” produced by the Education Department. The report cited analysis from George Mason’s Mercatus Center that showed federal higher education mandates increased by 56 percent from 1997-2012.
Today, the situation is bleak: There are thousands of pages of federal regulations, and the Education Department has to release “guidance” letters to clarify vague rules once per day, on average, according to the Task Force.
Case studies from individual schools reveal just how burdensome compliance can be. One example comes from Vanderbilt University, which recently analyzed its federal compliance costs and found that they accounted for $150 million—or 11 percent—of the university’s 2013 expenditures. (Vanderbilt announced that for each student, those compliance costs “equate to approximately $11,000 in additional tuition per year.”)
Earlier here. More from reader mx in comments, who notes that the Chronicle of Higher Education has criticized the Vanderbilt number on the grounds that most of the university’s regulatory costs ($117 million of $146 million) is attributed to compliance related to research, which is not necessarily charged to students as tuition.
- How the courts came to extend First Amendment protection to art, music, movies, and other expression not originally classed as “press” or “speech” [new Mark Tushnet, Alan Chen, and Joseph Blocher book via Ronald Collins]
- Cato amicus: church enterprises should be eligible for recycling program on same terms as secular businesses [Ilya Shapiro and Jayme Weber]
- “A Political Attack On Free Speech And Privacy Thwarted — For Now” [George Leef, Forbes on AFP v. Harris, earlier] Bill filed by Rep. Peter Roskam would keep IRS from collecting names of donors to nonprofits [Center for Competitive Politics]
- Newly enacted Tennessee conscience exemption for psychological counselors and therapists avoids some of the dangers of compelled speech [Scott Shackford, Reason]
- Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, benchslapped by Judge Richard Posner after sending credit card companies letters urging them to cut off dealings with Backpage.com, now seeks Supreme Court certiorari review [Ronald Collins, earlier here, here, and here]
- One problem with that Mississippi law: it gives extra protection to some religious beliefs about sex and marriage but not others [Popehat; my guest appearance on Mike Slater show, San Diego’s KFMB]