- Political fight brewing in California over ballot initiative that would pave way for bringing back rent control [Michael Hendrix, City Journal]
- “Metes and bounds” method of describing legal property boundaries has been much derided, but new archival research from American colonial period suggests its benefits then were greater and costs lower than might appear [Maureen (Molly) Brady, SSRN, forthcoming Yale Law Journal] Just for fun: street grid orientation (or lack thereof) in major cities expressed as polar charts [Geoff Boeing]
- “Alexandria, Virginia Gets Housing Affordability Wrong” [Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato]
- Houston does not zone but it does subsidize deed restrictions. Is that good? [Nolan Gray, Market Urbanism]
- Great moments in historic preservation: “Silver Lake gas station moves toward landmark status” but connoisseurs say it’s not nearly as choice as the three service stations previously landmarked in L.A. [Curbed Los Angeles]
- “America’s Ugly Strip Malls Were Caused By Government Regulation” [Scott Beyer]
Our discussion, kicked off with my opening essay earlier this month, continues with Michael McDonald and Raymond La Raja and now my response to them. (& welcome Election Law Blog/Rick Hasen readers). In other news, I played a bit part (as guest speaker) in this William & Mary project using GIS tools to redraw Virginia house districts, thanks to Profs. Rebecca Green and Robert Rose.
In 2015, following the lead of many other states, Virginia passed a “law that says women have a right to breast-feed anywhere they have a legal right to be.” The law provides “no exemption for religious institutions.” Now a mother and her attorney say Summit Church in Springfield, in the D.C. suburbs, had no right to ask her to use a private room to feed her baby during a service.
Personally, I’m fine with public breast-feeding no longer being categorized, as it once was, as an automatically shocking thing. But why is government dictation of how a church may arrange its rules for worship no longer categorized as an automatically shocking thing? [Michael Alison Chandler and Laura Vozzella, Washington Post] [adapted and cross-posted at Cato at Liberty; and welcome Mosaic Magazine readers]
- Investigation of asbestos claiming in Hampton Roads, Virginia, a major center of such litigation, finds plenty of double-dipping and related problems [Chamber Institute for Legal Reform; Richard Berman, Washington Times]
- “The Year Ahead: Will Trump Tackle Asbestos Litigation Scandals?” [Sara Warner, Huffington Post]
- “Asbestos loss projection now $100 billion for US carriers: Best” [Insurance Insider]
- “Sheldon Silver left legacy of high awards in asbestos suits against city” [New York Post]
- 10+ year smoker who contracted lung cancer sues 199 defendants citing asbestos exposure [West Virginia Record]
- Coming, new documentary: “UnSettled: Inside the Strange World of Asbestos Lawsuits, a film by award winning director Paul Johnson.” [site, Madison County Record]
On why Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is unlikely to move up to higher office soon, despite possible vacancies: “experts say keeping the powerful role of Attorney General in Democratic hands is key to the party’s agenda.” Remember when an attorney general was seen as some sort of neutral legal officer? [Washington Post]
- Do behavioral economists acknowledge policymakers’ own foibles? Not often it seems [Niclas Berggren via Bryan Caplan]
- China, not unlike our own attorney general-environmentalist alliance, is cracking down on the work of what it deems ideologically harmful nonprofits [ABA Journal]
- Barking mad: new ABA ethics proposal would deem it professional misconduct for lawyers to discriminate on various grounds, including “socioeconomic status,” in choosing partners, employees and experts [Eugene Volokh, Sara Randazzo/WSJ Law Blog]
- Virginia still has a law requiring annual safety inspection of your car, and it’s still a bad idea [Alex Tabarrok]
- Court in Canadian province of New Brunswick rules against honoring will that left estate to racist group [CBC]
- From the left, Paul Bland sees Monday’s Supreme Court decision in Spokeo v. Robins as a big loss for business defendants [Public Justice, earlier] Contra: Andrew Pincus, plus more from WLF.
So that you will respect us more, we now insist on being anonymous: the Virginia Senate has approved legislation exempting the names of police officers from disclosure under the state public records law. Sponsor Sen. John A. Cosgrove Jr. (R-Chesapeake), noting “that he knew many police officers and their families — said: ‘The culture is not one of respect for law enforcement anymore. It’s really, “How, how can we get these guys? What can we do?” … Police officers are much more in jeopardy.’ … Although other states have made moves to shield the identities of some officers, none would go as far as the proposal in Virginia.” A spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police union, defending the bill, said that it “is not about trying to keep information from the public, to have secret police.” The immediate controversy that prompted the bill arose when the Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Hampton Roads filed a request for information on police employment, following up on tips that officers fired from one department would find work at another. [Washington Post]
Insta-update: Panel in Virginia House unanimously votes to kill the bill [WAMU, thanks commenter Matthew S.]
- “And Hansel and Gretel (children!) kill their captor by baking her in an oven.” — Scalia, J., noting the commonness of violence in youthful entertainment over the centuries, in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (2005), his landmark opinion confirming full First Amendment protection for videogames as works of expression [Jim Copland/City Journal, Owen Good/Polygon; contrasting Hillary Clinton position]
- Scalia made crucial fifth vote for many First Amendment liberties. Which ones are safe now? [Ronald Collins first, second posts]
- Wisconsin redux? Montana ethics official targets political adversaries with subpoenas [Will Swaim, Reason]
- Goaded by governments, Facebook now has big program in Europe “finding and then removing comments that promote xenophobia.” [Independent, U.K.] Sad to see Israeli official backing legal curbs on freedom of social media [Times of Israel]
- “Flemming Rose talks about the decision to publish 12 cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005.” [“Free Thoughts” podcast with Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus, Cato’s Libertarianism.org]
- 2016 workplan from ACLU doesn’t include free speech as a main concern, and some aren’t surprised by that [Ronald Collins]
- “Appeals Court Tells City It Can’t Use Its Terribly-Written Zoning Laws To Censor Speech” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt; Fourth Circuit, Norfolk, Va.]
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has granted an unusual absolute pardon to Davey Reedy, released six years ago after many years of imprisonment on an arson murder conviction after a house fire that killed his two small children. The case is one of dozens in which forensic methods formerly used for evaluating arson have been re-examined as poorly based and unreliable. “According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 38 people have been exonerated before Reedy for arson-related crimes since 1991.” [Washington Post; earlier]
From the Post’s Christmas Day story:
After his release in 2009, he has settled back in the Roanoke area with his family. The day McAuliffe called to tell him of his exoneration, Roberta Bondurant said, he was coordinating a volunteer project.
“He’s at a place and time in his life where he’s at peace with himself,” she said. “It doesn’t help him at all in the time he has left on this planet to hold bitterness for anyone who made a mistake along the way.”
After the Feminist Majority Foundation promoted a Title IX complaint against the University of Mary Washington, primarily based on the public Virginia university’s failure to crack down harder on student use of the independent Yik Yak social media gossip platform, UMW President Richard Hurley in June wrote an unapologetic letter crisply refuting many of the group’s contentions. What do you think happened next? Sponsors amended their complaint to allege that Hurley’s letter itself constituted unlawful retaliation against persons invoking Title IX protection. “The [U.S. Department of Education’s] Office for Civil Rights announced its intent to investigate the university this month.” And now a group of 72 women’s and civil rights organizations, including the respectable American Association of University Women and Leadership Conference for Civil Rights, have “announced a campaign to enlist the federal government in pressuring colleges to protect students from harassment via anonymous social-media applications like Yik Yak.” [Eugene Volokh; Hans Bader; Chronicle of Higher Education; Fredericksburg, Va. Free Lance-Star (Hurley letter)] One thing’s for sure, someone is retaliating against something.
More: Eugene Volokh is out with a don’t-miss followup post analyzing the FMF complaints in much more depth, and noting that Hurley is being charged with retaliation for “engaging in normal public debate”:
Readers might recall the recent attempt to use Title IX to shut down critical speech as retaliation, in the Northwestern University / Prof. Laura Kipnis controversy…. This complaint is yet another such attempt.
The Feminist Majority Foundation, though a publisher of a magazine [Ms.], doesn’t seem to care much about the First Amendment rights of students, or of accused university officials. Its complaint goes far beyond constitutionally unprotected and rightly punishable speech, such as true threats of violence.
Instead, it faults the university for not stopping criticism of feminist arguments and feminist arguers, whether vulgar criticism or other criticism. It faults the university for speaking out, without vulgarities or epithets, in its own defense. And the premise of the complaint thus seems to be that one side of a debate has the right to speak — to condemn and to accuse — but the federal government should step in to stop the other side from responding.