“Dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger was acquitted on three of four criminal charges early Saturday morning in a trial that drew national attention from supporters of the raw, unpasteurized milk movement.” Hershberger sold his products through what he characterized as a consumer buying club, but prosecutors charged that the set-up was too much like a retail store, with price stickers and a cash register; Wisconsin law bans the sale of raw milk products through a retail store. “‘This is as close to Prohibition as anything I have ever seen, but this time it’s milk and an Amish farmer, rather than liquor and gangsters,’ [defense attorney Glenn] Reynolds said.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; Ryan Ekvall, Reason]
“Raw milk is risky. But that doesn’t mean it should be illegal.” [Joseph Stromberg, Vox]
One consequence of the events in Ferguson, Mo. is that people are talking with each other across ideological lines who usually don’t, a symbol being the attention paid on both left and right to Sen. Rand Paul’s op-ed last week in Time. And one point worth discussing is how the problem of police militarization manifests itself similarly these days in local policing and in the enforcement of federal regulation.
At BuzzFeed, Evan McMorris-Santoro generously quotes me on the prospects for finding common ground on these issues. The feds’ Gibson Guitar raid — our coverage of that here — did much to raise the profile of regulatory SWAT tactics, and John Fund cited others in an April report:
Many of the raids [federal paramilitary enforcers] conduct are against harmless, often innocent, Americans who typically are accused of non-violent civil or administrative violations.
Take the case of Kenneth Wright of Stockton, Calif., who was “visited” by a SWAT team from the U.S. Department of Education in June 2011. Agents battered down the door of his home at 6 a.m., dragged him outside in his boxer shorts, and handcuffed him as they put his three children (ages 3, 7, and 11) in a police car for two hours while they searched his home. The raid was allegedly intended to uncover information on Wright’s estranged wife, Michelle, who hadn’t been living with him and was suspected of college financial-aid fraud.
The year before the raid on Wright, a SWAT team from the Food and Drug Administration raided the farm of Dan Allgyer of Lancaster, Pa. His crime was shipping unpasteurized milk across state lines to a cooperative of young women with children in Washington, D.C., called Grass Fed on the Hill. Raw milk can be sold in Pennsylvania, but it is illegal to transport it across state lines. The raid forced Allgyer to close down his business.
Fund goes on to discuss the rise of homeland-security and military-surplus programs that have contributed to the rapid proliferation of SWAT and paramilitary methods in local policing. He cites Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop, which similarly treats both manifestations of paramilitary policing as part of the same trend.
As McMorris-Santoro notes in the BuzzFeed piece, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) has introduced a bill called the Regulatory Agency Demilitarization Act, citing such unsettling developments as a U.S. Department of Agriculture solicitation for submachine guns. 28 House Republicans have joined as sponsors, according to Ryan Lovelace at National Review.
There has already been left-right cooperation on the issue, as witness the unsuccessful Grayson-Amash amendment in June seeking to cut off the military-surplus 1033 program. As both sides come to appreciate some of the common interests at stake in keeping law enforcement as peaceful and proportionate as situations allow, there will be room for more such cooperation. (& welcome Instapundit, Radley Balko, Bainbridge readers; cross-posted at Cato at Liberty)
- Summary of bills passed in legislature [Washington Post] With legislative session over, bills that did not meet with favorable action include “source of income discrimination,” i.e., requiring landlords to accept Section 8 [unfavorable report, earlier]; curbing competition among hospices [unfavorable report, earlier]
- Dining allergy bill gets to conference committee stage, requirement that restaurants keep trained allergy advisers on hand watered down to county option [action, NFIB, AP after Senate passage, earlier]
- Crime and police bills that didn’t pass: requiring reports on asset seizures/forfeitures [Senate hearing, earlier]; police wearing of videocameras [amended substantially before House passage, unfavorable report in Senate]; castle doctrine and self-defense [unfavorable report, more];
- New school construction prevailing wage bill hurts communities and kids [Ellen Sauerbrey letter]
- Terms of final dog bite bill signed by governor: owner generally liable for bites to unoffending persons, can escape liability by rebutting presumption that it knew or had reason to know dog was dangerous, all breeds treated alike [AP, Baltimore Sun]
- Yes, Maryland legislators just decriminalized marijuana while banning grain alcohol and declining to lift the ban on raw milk;
- How does Maryland rank among the 50 states for property rights protections? Not well, that’s for sure [Freedom in the Fifty States]
- In end-of-session scramble, lawmakers pass minimum wage hike [Jenna Johnson, WaPo], vote to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana [Alex DeMetrick/WJZ, Jackie Wellfonder, earlier here, here, here]
- More on trial lawyer priority False Claims Act that passed House of Delegates mostly on party lines, advancing fast in Senate [coalition letter in PDF, bill status, earlier]
- “[Baltimore County] Cop Pushes and Shoves Videographer, Telling Him He Has ‘Lost’ his Freedom of Speech” [Carlos Miller/Photography Is Not a Crime via Radley Balko]
- Bill to legalize raw milk sales gets hearing, no committee action [SB 1092 (Jennings), Maryland Legislative Watch, CNS, some background]
- Much early zoning served purposes of racial subordination, Baltimore history furnishes sad example [A. Barton Hinkle]
- “Baltimore judge denies Angelos firm’s attempt to consolidate asbestos claims” [Heather Isringhausen Gvillo, Legal NewsLine] State’s high court limits asbestos “take-home” liability [Michael Ellis, Fed Soc]
- Civil-libertarian-backed bill to apply controls to law enforcement use of drones gets unfavorable report in Senate judiciary committee [SB 926, MLW, background at Cato]
- Gee, thanks, NIH: “Taxpayer-Funded Propaganda to Show the ‘Evils’ of Private Alcohol Sales” [Michelle Minton, CEI]
- “So this summer, under the supervision of officials from U.S. Customs, all three thousand two hundred and ninety-seven pounds of Mimolette were tossed into dumpsters and doused in bleach.” [The New Yorker, Dec. 9, subscription; S.F. Chronicle, earlier on French cheese controversy here, here, etc.]
- FDA forced to back off FSMA regs, NYC soda ban loses twice in court, and other highlights of the year in food freedom [Baylen Linnekin] “Americans Think They Should Be Allowed to Buy Foods with Trans Fats and Caffeinated Energy Drinks” [Emily Ekins on new Reason-RUPE poll] “The Dangers of a Soda Tax” [Trevor Burrus] Linnekin podcast on FDA’s trans-fat ban [Cato, Caleb Brown interview]
- “Annals of Closing Statements in Exploding Bottle Cases” [Kyle Graham]
- “Minnesota says raw milk makes more people sick than recognized” [L.A. Times]
- It’s for the children: proposals for regulating in-store food marketing [Jennifer Pomeranz via Public Citizen]
- Federal sugar program devastated domestic candy manufacturing, as WaPo (sometimes) recognizes [Chris Edwards]
- KlearGear and the consumer non-disparagement clause that ate (or tried to eat) Chicago [Popehat and followup]
- “House Passes Bill That Would Open Asbestos Trusts To Scrutiny” [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine]
- Randy Maniloff interviews Judge Richard Posner on his new book Reflections on Judging [Coverage Opinions]
- In a custody fight, anything can happen: “Dad Accused of ‘Unfit Parenting’ for Refusing to Take His Son to McDonalds” [TIME]
- “Released after serving 10 years on false rape accusation –then wrongly arrested for not registering as sex offender” [Chicago Tribune via @radleybalko]
- Institute for Justice launches campaign to challenge local restrictions on food with suits over sale of cottage baked goods, front-yard vegetable gardens, advertising of raw milk [AP/Yahoo, “National Food Freedom Initiative“]
- Alabama regulators add hassle factor when business tries to move into the state [Coyote]
- Watch on the rinds: consumers protest against Mimolette import ban [Cato interview with Jill Erber of Northern Virginia cheese shop Cheesetique, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Mark Steyn on French and U.S. attitudes toward cheese freedom, earlier here, etc.] “The Inside Story of a ‘Juror Revolt’ in Amish Raw Milk Trial” [Modern Farmer] History of Canadian margarine regulation [more from Steyn, NRO]
- Steve Chapman on the utopian quest for zero BAC driving [syndicated/Reason]
- “In addition to its constitutional flaws, California’s foie gras ban is unenforceable.” [Baylen Linnekin]
- Class actions vs. food and beverage defendants soar, “from roughly 19 cases in 2008 to more than 102 in 2012” [Reuters]
- Beware the kale: “The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater” [Erica, NW Edible Life]
- Culinary, legal, insurance and scientific aspects of roadkill [Edible Geography]
- “FDA And Caffeine: Selective Regulation By Unsubtle Threat” [Cory Andrews, WLF]