- Texas trims back its SLAPP law after complaints it was being used in circumstances far from original design [John G. Browning, D Magazine] Howard Wasserman on John Oliver on SLAPP suits [Prawfsblawg]
- In the U.S., sovereign governments can’t sue for libel. Does that include Indian tribes? [TMZ, Eugene Volokh]
- “Your Periodic Reminder that Blogging About Litigation Can Generate More Litigation” [Eric Goldman]
- Virginia emerges as libel tourism destination in high-profile cases [Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post; Paul Alan Levy, Public Citizen on Devin Nunes action, earlier]
- “Virginia Legislator Joe Morrissey Gets Called “Fool,” Sues, Arguing He’s Not a Fool” [Eugene Volokh] “Retired Law Professor Sues Lawyer-Commenters on Law Blog” [same]
- “Kansas senate leader ordered to pay nearly $39,000 in legal fees to The Kansas City Star after a judge dismissed his defamation lawsuit” [Katie Bernard, Kansas City Star]
If county and city law enforcers have discretion not to charge low-level drug offenses, do they also have discretion not to charge low-level gun offenses? Cam Edwards on the Virginia battle over “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolutions [National Review].
* As expected, Democrats took over both houses in the Virginia legislature, sweeping the D.C. and Richmond suburbs where they successfully nationalized the issues. Virginia has been a badly gerrymandered state, which figured as an issue in the campaign. Now that they are fully in charge of the process, Virginia Democrats will need to decide whether they actually believe in moving toward neutral and impartial redistricting methods that take the power of line-drawing out of the hands of interested parties.
* New York City voters overwhelmingly approved a proposal to adopt ranked choice voting (RCV) in primary and some other elections. While I know this isn’t a universally shared view, I see a lot of merit in ranked choice voting and look forward to seeing more large jurisdictions experiment with it.
* Jim Hood, whose doings as Mississippi Attorney General have long furnished grist for this blog, looks to have fallen short in his bid for Mississippi governor.
I wrote in October about “a low-profile program in which a nonprofit backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg places lawyers in state attorney generals’ offices, paying their keep, on the condition that they pursue environmental causes.” Now the Virginia legislature has approved a provision apparently aimed at heading off the practice in that state, the relevant provision reading: “The sole source of compensation paid to employees of the Office of the Attorney General for performing legal services on behalf of the Commonwealth shall be from the appropriations provided under this act.” Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has campaigned against the practice. [Todd Shepherd, Free Beacon; Charmaine Little, Legal NewsLine]
- 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.