- “‘Hate speech’ is not a legal category, and banning it wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny.” [Cato Daily Podcast episodes with Caleb Brown interviewing Matthew Feeney and Lou Perez]
- “Civil FOSTA Suits Start Showing Up In Court; Prove That FOSTA Supporters Were 100% Wrong About Who Would Be Targeted” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt, earlier]
- Cause célèbre in the U.K.: employment law tribunal, an institution with no exact counterpart in American law, rules against worker fired from nonprofit over tweets expressing view that sex is immutable biological characteristic [Owen Bowcott, The Guardian; Jodie Ginsberg (chief executive of Index on Censorship group]
- California attorney general’s office demands donor lists of non-profits, including those out of state. Supreme Court should now clarify its doctrine that all laws infringing on First Amendment freedoms be narrowly tailored [Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, and James Knight on Cato certiorari amicus brief in Institute for Free Speech v. Becerra; earlier and related here, here, etc.]
- Trump sues the New York Times for libel over a Max Frankel op-ed and Eric Turkewitz doesn’t think much of his prospects [earlier]
- “Was This the Decade We Hit Peak Free Speech?” [Jesse Walker]
- Britain’s Labour Party conference pledges to take over private schools, confiscating endowments as well as land and property [Benjamin Kentish, Independent]
- New York Department of Education readies moves to place private and religious schools under much tighter government control [Peter Murphy, City Journal]
- Chicago teachers’ union sends delegation on “solidarity trip” to Venezuela [Mark Glennon, Wirepoints; Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune]
- So-called Blaine Amendments bar religious schools in participating in voucher programs to which they would be admitted were they nonsectarian. A case of religious discrimination, and if so, violative of the First Amendment? [Ilya Shapiro and Dennis Garcia on Cato merits brief in Supreme Court case of Espinosa v. Montana, Trevor Burrus and Patrick Moran on certiorari stage brief]
- “The [California] draft curriculum says that ethnic studies courses created by districts from the proposed curriculum will… ‘critique empire and its relationship to white supremacy, …capitalism, and other forms of power and oppression'” [Valerie Strauss, Washington Post/Lowell Sun; Elizabeth Castillo, Cal Matters; Joanne Jacobs]
- “Kamala Harris expresses ‘regret’ over California truancy law” [Katie Galioto, Politico; background; “Souvarine”, Daily Kos (“criminal penalties for parents of truant children” are among “the earliest and most enduring progressive victories”; also tracing publicity on the issue to a certain scribbler of “libertarian claptrap,” though I made clear I was building on the earlier work of, e.g., the Marshall Project)]
- Despite strenuous efforts in Seattle and D.C. suburbs to impose “equity lens” on school systems and train all sides about implicit bias and systemic racism, no sign that actual outcome gaps are likely to budge [Rebecca Tan, Washington Post]
The effects of England’s 1696-1851 window tax can still be seen on its streets today [Dan Lewis, Now I Know]
- Seventh Circuit panel rebukes Purdue in important Title IX case [KC Johnson, Minding the Campus] Since federal Dear Colleague letter pressuring them to revamp procedures in favor of accusers, colleges have been sued more than 500 times [Stephanie Gutmann, New York Post] Behind Harvard Title IX investigation of law professor Bruce Hay is a story of trust and betrayal that almost beggars belief [Kera Bolonik, New York] Analyzing student demands at Princeton [Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic]
- For research institutions, exposure to False Claims Act liability is more than just a mouse nibble: Duke University will pay $112 million following allegations that it misrepresented progress of rodent studies [U.S. Department of Justice press release]
- Waiting-and-seeing on the Trump campus free speech executive order [from this spring: Eugene Volokh; Heather Mac Donald (“The history of government mission creep and bloat is not reassuring”); FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) statement; Neal McCluskey, Cato; Keith Whittington; Donald Downs, Martin Center; Tyler Cowen]
- Letter from 12 scholars: “Philosophers Should Not Be Sanctioned Over Their Positions on Sex and Gender” [Inside Higher Ed] “Self-Censorship on Campus Is Bad for Science” [Luana Maroja, The Atlantic] U.K.: “Stonewall’s LGBT Guidance is Limiting the Free Speech of Gender Critical Academics” [Kathleen Stock, Quillette; more]
- “Cambridge University, which still drips with Norman money and influence, should now consider to what extent it needs to compensate its Anglo-Saxon victims.” [satire: Sahil Mahtani, The Spectator (U.K.)]
- Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill passed unanimously by Florida legislature defining as hateful in context of educational civil rights such things as “demonizing, applying a double standard to, or delegitimizing Israel.” Shouldn’t that be more controversial, especially as applied at university level, given that it takes in some kinds of core political speech? [John Haughey, Florida Center Square; Florida Politics: A.G. Gancarski, Scott Powers; Joe Cohn, FIRE]
- Singapore law restricting so-called fake news “could force companies to tell the government what websites users have viewed” [Jennifer Daskal, New York Times] Ruling People’s Action Party “is notorious for its practice of bringing lawsuits against opposition members,” sometimes “for defamation upon criticizing the PAP,” while blog authors are “often pressured to register as members of political bodies if their posts touch upon national issues.” [Sally Andrews, The Diplomat]
- Australian federal police raid national broadcaster, seize files over story exposing alleged killings of unarmed civilians by special forces [Matthew Lesh, Spiked]
- U.K.: “Man investigated by police for retweeting transgender limerick” [Camilla Tominey and Joani Walsh, Daily Telegraph; Jack Beresford, Irish Post; Ophelia Benson followup on “Harry the Owl” case; earlier here, here, etc.]
- From President John Adams’s time to our own, rulers around the world have used alarms over fake news as excuse for measures against political opponents [J.D. Tuccille, Reason]
- “In a world first, Facebook to give data on hate speech suspects to French courts” [Mathieu Rosemain, Reuters, Jacob Mchangama on Twitter]
- Michael Jackson fan clubs sue sex-abuse complainants “under a French law against the public denunciation of a dead person,” good example of why laws like that are a bad idea [AP/GlobalNews]
- Turkish “Academics for Peace” initiative of 2016: “Of the petition’s more than 2,000 signatories, nearly 700 were put on trial and over 450 were removed from their posts by government decree or direct action from their own university.” [Brennan Cusack, New York Times]
The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has “instituted a ban on gender stereotypes ‘that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.'”
According to the ASA’s overview, setups that will likely be in violation of the law include but are not limited to:
* An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess.
* An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man’s inability to change nappies [diapers]; a woman’s inability to park a car.
* Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives.
* An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (e.g. caring) needs to be handled with care.
* An ad aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing.
It will not be a defense of a stereotype that it is by and large true — that, for example, persons whose physique departs significantly from social expectations might genuinely face worse average outcomes in their romantic lives.
The rules do allow a few exceptions; for example, it will still be fine for advertisers in Britain to invoke gender stereotypes for purposes of challenging them. [Billy Binion, Reason; update on action against ads for Volkswagen and Philadelphia Cream Cheese]
Happy Independence Day!
I’ve got a piece in Thursday’s Washington Examiner on a remarkable new law enforcement tool in Britain:
It’s like, “Your papers, please,” but for things you own.
Authorities in Britain have begun trying out a new police power called unexplained wealth orders under a law that took effect last year. The police go to a court and say you’re living way above any known legitimate income. The judge then signs an order compelling you to show that your possessions (whether a house, fancy car, or jewelry) have been obtained honestly and not with dirty money. In the meantime, the boat or artwork or other assets get frozen, and you can’t sell them until you’ve shown you obtained them innocently.
The kicker: The burden of proof falls on you, not the government. If you don’t prove the funds were clean, Her Majesty may be presumed entitled to keep the goodies….
Related to the flipping of the burden of proof, the law says information dug up via one of the orders can’t then be used in criminal charges against the target.
…advocates want this to be the start of hundreds of seizure actions against other rich foreigners in the British capital.
Some are already calling for bringing a law like this to the United States, and maybe we’re halfway there already. Asset forfeiture laws, blessed by the Supreme Court, already let police seize your property on suspicion of involvement in a crime and make you go to court to get it back. We’ve been chipping away at financial privacy in this country for decades, through Know Your Customer, suspicious-activity reports, and FATCA (expatriate tax) rules.
Ironically — though recent enactments by Parliament may be changing this, too — Britain’s own peripheral territories and dependencies, including the Channel Islands, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, etc. have long made a good business out of furnishing the rest of the world with the means of financial privacy.
The reversal of the presumption of innocence troubles many Britons, too. For the moment, use of the orders is limited to a few elite law enforcement agencies. One of those agencies, however, is Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs — the tax collectors. It’s not wrong to worry about where this idea is headed.
Yesterday we conducted weapons sweeps,dealt with a person injured from a van reversing on them, reported a burglary and collected all these from @scope charity shop who diligently didn’t want them to get into the wrong hands & disposed of correctly & safely pic.twitter.com/GNfxZd6iGd
— Regents Park Police (@MPSRegentsPark) May 14, 2019
From a verified police account in London, a city that’s been pursuing an anti-knife campaign. Note the foil (or is it an épée?), the spoon, and enough chef’s, paring, bread, and steak knives to get a half-dozen households launched on a lifelong mission of eating well.
- “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]
- London ban on transit ads depicting “bad” foods winds up nixing images of Wimbledon strawberries and cream, bacon, butter, cheese, jam, honey, and Christmas pudding [Scott Shackford]
- And more: British medical journal The Lancet wants to do some highly non-consensual poking and jabbing at your midsection, with the aim of making you lose weight; highlights include funding activist campaigns, cutting business out of policy discussions, and routing policy through the least accountable international organizations [Christopher Snowdon, The Spectator; more from Snowdon on state-subsidized anti-food advocacy in Britain; Nina Teicholz]
- Pushing back on the Lancet panel’s guideline that each person be allowed no more than one egg and less than 3.5 ounces of red meat a week [Mark Hemingway]
- “The Problem With Nudging People to Happiness” [Randy Barnett reviews Cass Sunstein’s On Freedom]
- “Pharmaceutical Freedom: Why Patients Have a Right to Self Medicate”, Cato Daily Podcast with Jessica Flanigan and Caleb Brown;
- “Proposed Anti-Soda Bills in California Would Ban Big Gulps, Mandate Warning Labels on Vending Machines” [Christian Britschgi] “Medical Groups Endorse New Taxes and Marketing Restrictions on Soda — For the children, of course” [Baylen Linnekin]