Hillary Clinton and gunmaker liability

Remarks by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have brought an old topic of mine — gunmaker liability, and the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act — back into the news [Brian Doherty, Reason] I last wrote about it in this piece for Power Line Blog two years ago, and the attempt to use coordinated litigation to take down the gun industry, thus achieving gun control by other means, was the subject of a chapter in my 2004 book The Rule of Lawyers.

On CPS: “The progressive case for parents’ rights is worth taking seriously”

The critique of Child Protective Services agencies advanced lately by the free-range kids movement should find a readier echo on the left, writes Michelle Goldberg in The Nation. “Progressives have not, in general, seen CPS as worthy of the same suspicion as other forms of law enforcement,” yet minorities and poor persons are exposed to its scrutiny and pressure if anything more intensely. “Most of the time, when CPS is called, no proof emerges that the parents did anything wrong.” Yet they may still keep coming around inspecting your refrigerator and so forth: “once CPS enters a poor family’s life…it can be hard for the family to extricate itself….A social worker may discover that the woman is living with a man who has a criminal record. And that’s enough to keep the case open.” One Twitter response, from Isaac A. Patterson:

More: Radley Balko.

Supreme Court roundup

The Court begins its new term each year on the first Monday in October:

Bernie Sanders: I’ll make justices pledge

“Sen. Sanders goes one step further. He would require that nominees publicly commit to case outcomes…. Although under President Sanders’ proposal judicial impartiality in fact and in appearance will suffer, there is a bright side. If President Sanders filled a majority of seats on the Court with pre-committed Justices, lawyers before the Court could significantly reduce the time and effort expended on the argument sections of their briefs.” [Raymond McKoski, Legal Ethics Forum]

Note also that Sanders managed to find a position on Citizens United worse than Hillary Clinton’s “Banning a critical movie about me should’ve been OK.”

Bryan Caplan vs. “Scott Alexander” on labor economics

A rejoinder worth reading on labor markets by George Mason economist Bryan Caplan to the pseudonymous “Scott Alexander,” who writes the popular Slate Star Codex blog [Caplan first, second, third posts, all responding to this critique-of-libertarianism FAQ] If you don’t read Alexander, some of his top posts are here (especially strong on questions of medicine/health care and the way social justice language has developed into a tool of power). Also check out his recent post on the Daraprim mess and the wider failure of generic drug regulation [earlier on which].

Getting ready for ADA website regulations

As I’ve said more than once, I view the Department of Justice’s much-delayed plans to mandate “accessibility” of websites under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as perhaps the single most under-reported and alarming regulation that I know of in the federal pipeline. Here is a June rundown from Porter Wright attorneys Bob Morgan and Melissa Barnett of the state of play on the issue. It notes, as has our coverage, that even without getting around to issuing regs, DoJ is busy using ADA settlements to impose its views of accessibility on businesses it sues.

The article affords some glimpses of the staggering hassles that lie ahead for those who sell or promote products or services online, including for many the likely need to hire not just consulting help but full-time web accessibility specialists. Just one excerpt:

…making a website accessible to disabled users centers on design and functionality. The complexity of achieving this objective varies by the “type of content, the size and complexity of the site, and the development tools and environment,” according to the World Wide Web Consortium. But hundreds of design options exist to make a website accessible; WGAC 2.0 [the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines] alone provides 206 options. These include, but are not limited to, providing links to definitions, removing time limits for activities, providing spoken word versions of text, and ensuring keyboard control for all website functions.

One wording in this passage strikes me as a bit peculiar. To say that WGAC “alone provides 206 options” might suggest that achieving legal compliance is a snap — look, there are 206 options to comply, just pick one. But it doesn’t mean that, does it? Just because you’ve arranged to “provide spoken word versions of text” to fend off a lawsuit on behalf of blind users doesn’t mean you can get out of a lawsuit representing persons lacking fine hand motor control for not “ensuring keyboard control for all website functions” (i.e., disabling any mouse-only functions and patching any failures this generates in your current design). And even if you can do both those things along with fifty more, you may still be exposed to a lawsuit if you haven’t gotten around to “removing time limits for activities.”

According to Porter Wright’s Morgan and Barnett the Department of Justice is now expected to release its new rule in April 2016. Do not count on Congress to save the day; its record in the past under both Republican and Democratic leadership has been one of stepping in to expand the scope of the ADA, not rein in its more extreme applications. A better hope is the courts, which, despite some recent erosion, have not overturned some noteworthy precedents in which judges declined to extend ADA regulation wholesale from physical to virtual “space.”

“Daughter of actor Paul Walker files wrongful-death suit against Porsche”

“The teenage daughter of actor Paul Walker filed a wrongful-death suit Monday against Porsche AG, alleging defects in the car that the 40-year-old star of ‘The Fast and the Furious’ franchise rode in when he was killed in a fiery crash nearly two years ago….Authorities believe the car was traveling at more than 90 mph before it slammed into trees and a concrete street light …. Reports by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol show that investigators found unsafe speed and not mechanical problems to be responsible for the crash.” [L.A. Times]

Banking and finance roundup

A mixed Ninth Circuit ruling on antitrust and the NCAA

“Colleges can’t be required to let star athletes cash in on their celebrity status, a Ninth Circuit panel ruled Wednesday, reversing part of a landmark antitrust decision that had called into question the NCAA’s entire business model.” [Marisa Kendall, The Recorder; W$J] From August: “How Sports Got Blitzed By the Plaintiff’s Bar” [Ross Todd, The Recorder]