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).
- “Near the end of her new proposal to break up Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple, Senator Warren asks, ‘So what would the Internet look like after all these reforms?’ It’s a good question.” [Geoffrey Manne and Alec Stapp, Truth on the Market/CNBC]
- Floral arrangements as constitutionally protected expression: Cato files amicus on behalf of First Amendment rights of Washington florist Barronelle Stutzman not to serve a wedding of which she disapproves [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran, Washington Supreme Court]
- “Over several months, man repeatedly threatens his next-door neighbor with profanity, racial epithets. The police investigate, warn the man to stop, and then arrest him when he does not. Eventually, the man leaves the apartment complex after the landlord declines to renew his lease. Can the neighbor sue the landlord for failing to intervene sooner? The Second Circuit says yes, the neighbor’s Fair Housing Act claims should not have been dismissed. Dissent: The FHA doesn’t say landlords can be liable for tenant-on-tenant harassment; more likely it precludes such claims.” [IJ “Short Circuit” on Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Second Circuit; Scott Greenfield]
- Gender identity: R. Shep Melnick on where the momentum is headed among judges, regulators, and administrators [Liberty and Law]
- Comfort for lawmakers means discomfort for taxpayers? Study finds “growth in state government expenditures in warm states was higher after the introduction of air conditioning” [Thomas A. Garrett and Natalia A. Kolesnikova, Cato Journal]
- “Succubustic” is not a word you should probably use at all, certainly not to describe any real person, and most definitely not if you are a lawyer to describe a judge [Lowering the Bar]
- “30 Years After the Rushdie Fatwa, Europe Is Moving Backward” on speech that gives religious offense [Jacob Mchangama and Sarah McLaughlin, Foreign Policy] Whether you call it blasphemy or hate speech, chilling effects on expression are the same [Helen Dale, Unherd]
- British writer faces police inquiry after “deadnaming” transgender activist online [Katie Herzog, The Stranger; Sophie Law, Daily Mail on Graham Linehan case] Social media “like” contributes to another police call [James Kirkup, The Spectator]
- How American law came to recognize hate speech as part of the zone of protected free speech: a look at the history [Flemming Rose, Cato Institute]
- Labour MP introduces bill to ban private Facebook groups [Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner]
- Far-right French politico Marine Le Pen, prosecuted over speech on Twitter, “ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination as part of the investigation.” Say what? [Jacob Sullum]
- The U.K.’s new anti-terrorism efforts should be terrifying to anyone who cares about free speech [J.D. Tuccille, Reason]
- New EEOC chief data officer says machine learning algorithms may soon enable agency to predict, and deploy resources against, workplace bias before it happens [Paige Smith, Bloomberg Law]
- “The BSO, in a statement, defended its pay structure, saying that the flute and oboe are not comparable, in part because the oboe is more difficult to play and there is a larger pool of flutists.” [Geoff Edgers, Washington Post/Allentown Morning Call]
- Even they can’t comply: “The case was ironic since the commission is charged with eliminating discrimination in Pennsylvania.” [Matt Miller, PennLive, on the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission’s jury loss in a race discrimination complaint] “Do as they say, not as they do: employees accuse Planned Parenthood of pregnancy discrimination” [Jon Hyman]
- Fourth Circuit: maybe Title VII doesn’t create a right to swipe files from HR [Jon Hyman]
- Although libertarians support legalizing marijuana, they should not support laws that bar employers from discriminating on the basis of marijuana use [Jeffrey Miron, Cato]
- “Why do women earn less than men? Evidence from train and bus operators” [Valentin Bolotnyy and Natalia Emanuel via Tyler Cowen]
- Minnesota jury orders women’s football team and league to pay $20,000 to transgender applicant turned away [Mary Lynn Smith, Minneapolis Star Tribune]
- Notwithstanding one-person-one-vote, some House districts do have unusually high or low populations. Main reasons: 1) Small states get rounded up or down; 2) demographics change in existing districts over 10-year Census cycle especially where new housing is being built [Hristina Byrnes, 24/7 Wall Street, I’m quoted]
- “‘Outrageously excessive’ requests for attorney fees can be altogether denied, 3rd Circuit says” [ABA Journal]
- Prenda copyright troll Paul Hansmeier, who also did mass ADA filings, pleads guilty to fraud and money laundering charges [Dan Browning, Minneapolis Star-Tribune via Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
- Thread: calm, factual discussion of Department of Justice brief on Title VII and gender identity [Popehat on Twitter]
- We’ve often discussed the high cost of the maritime-protectionist Jones Act, and now Cato has launched a Project on Jones Act Reform;
- “Landlord, a Fairfax, Va. mobile home park, imposes requirement that all adult tenants show proof of legal residence in the country; four Latino families (four men with legal status, four women who are illegal immigrants, and 10 U.S. citizen children) face fines, eviction. A violation of the Fair Housing Act? Could be, says the Fourth Circuit (over a dissent).” [IJ Short Circuit]
Not using someone’s preferred pronoun — “whether it’s he, she, ‘ze’ or something else” — could become a disciplinary offense, escalating up to firing and expulsion, at the University of Minnesota under a proposed policy [Maura Lerner, Minneapolis Star-Tribune] I’m quoted as saying that although protecting transgender members of its community from purposeful insult or breach of privacy is a legitimate purpose, the university is likely to fare poorly in court if it presumes to punish community members for not using new-coined gender pronouns on demand [Sarah George, The College Fix]:
“As a public institution with an educational mission to uphold, Minnesota can appropriately make some demands of its members, such as respecting norms of collegiality, refraining from insult, observing consistent standards in filling out paperwork, and so forth,” Olson told The Fix via email.
“But this does not constitute a blank check to police and punish language use generally, especially not in politically charged areas of speech, and most especially when the policy departs from viewpoint neutrality to side with some controversial views over others.”…
“Before presuming to force university members to mouth or endorse politically controversial language as a condition of keeping their jobs or remaining enrolled, the university must show that such coerced expression is essential to its functioning as an educational institution. It has not, and I suspect cannot, made such a showing,” he said.
- Even as Washington, D.C. saddles child-care providers with new degree requirement, it leaves unenforced some of its certification rules for public school teachers [David Boaz, earlier here, etc.]
- Mayor de Blasio plans to overhaul admission to NYC’s elite high schools. Watch out [Lisa Schiffren, New York Post]
- On the Banks of Plumb Crazy: American Library Association removes Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from children’s-book award [AP/The Guardian]
- Max Eden investigation of death at a NYC school [The 74 Million] Eden and Seth Barron podcast on school shootings and discipline policy [City Journal]
- “The Transgender Bathroom Wars Continue in State Court” [Gail Heriot]
- Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arizona and on: are teacher uprisings justified? [Neal McCluskey and Caleb Brown]
I’m a bit late getting to this major survey from my colleague Emily Ekins and associates. Some highlights good and bad:
* By 71% to 28%, Americans lean toward the view that political correctness silences discussions society ought to have, rather than the view that it is a constructive way to reduce the giving of offense;
* Liberals are much more likely than conservatives to say that they feel comfortable saying things they believe without fear that others will take offense.
* By a 4-to-1 margin Americans consider hate speech morally unacceptable, while by (only) a 3-to-2 margin they do not want the government to ban it.
* “47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques,” notwithstanding the First Amendment’s protection of free exercise of religion.
* “51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people’s preferred gender pronouns,” also notwithstanding the First Amendment.
* Upwards of 80% of liberals deem it “hateful or offensive” to state that illegal immigrants should be deported or that women should not serve in military combat, with 36% and 47% of conservatives agreeing respectively. “39% of conservatives believe it’s hate speech to say the police are racist, only 17% of liberals agree.”
And much more: on college speaker invitations, microaggressions, whether executives should be fired over controversial views, media bias, forced cake-baking, and the ease of being friends across partisan lines, among many other topics.
- Union contracts can result in truant-teacher syndrome [Larry Sand, City Journal]
- “A Review of Department of Education Programs: Transgender Issues, Racial Quotas in School Discipline, and Campus Sexual Assault Mandates” [Linda Chavez et al., Regulatory Transparency Project]
- Why is the FBI getting involved in college sports recruiting scandals? [Cato podcast with Ilya Shapiro]
- School lobby in Pennsylvania, unable to defeat taxpayer advocates at ballot box, hopes to win in court instead [Matt Miller, PennLive on school finance suit]
- “End Federal Pressure for Racial Quotas in Special Education” [Hans Bader, CEI]
- Irvington, N.J.: “Student to get $6M after tripping, breaking arm in gym class” [AP/TribLive]
“Few Canadians realize how seriously these statutes infringe upon freedom of speech. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has stated, in the context of equivalent provisions in the Ontario Human Rights Code, that ‘refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name and a personal pronoun that matches their gender identity … will likely be discrimination when it takes place in a social area covered by the Code, including employment, housing and services like education.'” [Bruce Pardy, National Post] We noted the New York City Human Rights Commission’s similar guidance last year.