International free speech roundup

  • Tonight in New York City, Cato presents its Milton Friedman Award to Danish journalist Flemming Rose, a key figure in the [still-ongoing] Mohammed cartoons episode, and author of The Tyranny of Silence [David Boaz, Cato]
  • Troubles in Turkey: journalists sentenced to two years in jail for reprinting Charlie Hebdo cover [Reuters, Reason] Erdogan’s campaign against foreign critics assumes extraterritorial reach with complaints against comedian in Germany and Geneva exhibit [Colin Cortbus/Popehat, Foreign Policy]
  • Ya mad wee dafty: “Man faces hate crime charge in Scotland over dog’s ‘Nazi salute'” [Guardian]
  • Publish a “wrong” map of India, face seven years in jail and a huge fine [Hindustan Times; “crore” = 10 million]
  • United Kingdom man fined £500 for calling romantic rival “fat-bellied codhead. [Blackpool Gazette]
  • Emulating USA tycoon D. Trump, China pressures finance analysts against negative forecasts [WSJ, Barron’s on the Marvin Roffman story, which I used to tell when giving speeches on my book The Litigation Explosion]

Employer sues to unmask GlassDoor commenters

GlassDoor is a Yelp-like forum on the topic of what it’s like to work at employers, and a much-used tool for those checking on the job market. Now California law firm Layfield & Barrett and its attorney Philip Layfield have filed a suit seeking to unmask John Does who posted a dozen disobliging comments, and Layfield’s comments at Above the Law are drawing further attention to the controversy. [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]

Mike Moore’s Mississippi multitasking

Overlooked tidbit from last month on the doings of former Mississippi attorney general Michael Moore, famed for his role in the great tobacco caper, who’s tight with longtime Mississippi AG and Overlawyered favorite Jim Hood [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog]:

In February, Google released discovery documents that the company said showed that the DCA [the Hollywood-linked “Digital Citizens Alliance”] paid former Mississippi attorney general Mike Moore’s law firm $180,000 for consulting services “at the very same time [Mike Moore Law Firm] was officially deputized to lead the Attorney General’s so-called investigation of Google.”

See also this 2014 post by Jay Caruso at Pocket Full of Liberty. More on Jim Hood’s role as a cat’s paw for Hollywood against Google here, here, here, and here. More on Hood and Moore here, etc.

May 24 roundup

  • Not the theater’s fault, says a Colorado jury, rejecting Aurora massacre suit [ABA Journal, earlier here, here, and here, related here, etc.]
  • Senate GOP could have cut off funds for HUD’s social-engineer-the-suburbs power grab, AFFH. So why’d they arrange instead to spare it? [Paul Mirengoff/PowerLine, more, earlier] Related: federal judge Denise Cote denies motion to challenge supposed speech obligations of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino under consent decree with HUD [Center for Individual Rights; earlier here, here, etc.]
  • “Earnhardt Family Fighting Over Whether One Earnhardt Son Can Use His Own Last Name” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
  • Freddie Gray charges, bad new laws on pay, the state’s stake in world trade, armored vehicles for cops, bar chart baselines that don’t start at zero, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
  • “You can be fined for not calling people ‘ze’ or ‘hir,’ if that’s the pronoun they demand that you use” [Eugene Volokh on NYC human rights commission guidance]
  • Despite potential for schadenfreude, please refrain from taxing university endowments [John McGinnis]

Louisiana moves to add cops as hate crime protected group

Under a bill that passed the state legislature with little opposition and now heads to the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), Louisiana “is poised to become the first [state] in the nation where public-safety personnel will be a protected class under hate-crime law.” That will bring us much closer to the end of all principled conservative opposition to hate-crime laws, so thanks for nothing, Louisiana. [New Orleans Times-Picayune, Washington Post] My case against the idea, which has been pushed by the Fraternal Order of Police union, is here.

House Judiciary: freeze that slush

The House Judiciary Committee, by an 18-6 vote, has given its approval to the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016, which would curtail the Department of Justice’s practice of using legal settlements to funnel money to favored groups [Rep. Bob Goodlatte press release, Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Dan Lungren testimony, U.S. Chamber] Earlier here (Randal John Meyer), here, etc.

Campus free expression roundup

  • 21 professors, including Bartholet, Epstein, and McConnell, write letter to Department of Education Office of Civil Rights [OCR] challenging its directives on campus sexual harassment [Ashe Schow, Washington Examiner] Student suing Colorado State over multi-year suspension adds OCR as a defendant [Scott Greenfield; more, George Will]
  • President Obama has been saying things students need to hear about intellectual freedom at commencements [Howard and Rutgers, Jonathan Adler] “Does Obama understand that his own government is responsible for the safe-space phenomenon he frequently decries?” [Robby Soave]
  • Protesters these days disrupting and physically shutting down a lot of pro-Israel campus speeches and events on US campuses [Observer; UC Irvine]
  • “Jokes, insensitive remarks, size-ist posters”: from a distance the doings of the University of Oregon’s Bias Response Team can seem kind of hilarious. Maybe not up close [Robby Soave/Reason, Catherine Rampell/Washington Post] “Towson U. [Maryland public university] implements ‘hate/bias’ reporting system to ensure ‘anti-racist campus climate’” [The College Fix]
  • Read and marvel at the arguments being deployed against Prof. Dale Carpenter’s proposal for bolstering free expression at the University of Minnesota [Susan Du, City Pages] “Why Free Speech Matters on Campus” [Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch]
  • Faculty at George Mason University law school unanimously affirm commitment to renaming school after Justice Antonin Scalia [Lloyd Cohen, Michael Greve]

Climate advocacy as “racketeering”: they knew

They knew, because their own allies had told them: “As you know, deception/disinformation isn’t itself a basis for criminal prosecution under RICO.” — an official of the Union of Concerned Scientists, writing to the organizers of a campaign to enlist scientists behind a call for a RICO investigation of the fossil fuel industry for its statements about climate change. The letter added, explaining UCS’s unwillingness to back the letter, “We don’t think that Sen. [Sheldon] Whitehouse’s call gives enough of a basis for scientists to sign on to this as a solid approach at this point.” [Reason]

Despite cautions like these, calls for a RICO investigation soon caught on among the political class and an investigation launched by Democratic state attorneys general has now aimed dragnet climate subpoenas at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and, thus far less directly, at nearly 100 advocacy, free-market, and university-based groups. “These include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the George Mason University Law and Economics Center, the American Enterprise Institute, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, the Cato Institute [which publishes Overlawyered], the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, the Heritage Foundation, and on and on,” writes Ronald Bailey. CEI responded to the subpoena here (in a brief written by Andrew Grossman) and here, and on May 13 Cohen Milstein, the private contingency-fee law firm representing the attorney general of the Virgin Islands, responded, reserving the right to compel compliance with the subpoena, which demands the production of ten years’ worth of documents.

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are among public figures who have backed calls for a racketeering investigation of fossil fuel companies’ participation in climate debates. I have found no evidence that either has expressed concern about the direction in which such investigations are headed.

Federal judge: DoJ lawyers told untruths, need ethics classes

A federal judge has handed down one of the most spectacular rebukes in memory to the courtroom conduct of the U.S. Department of Justice [DOJ], for hiding the ball in a challenge to the administration’s DAPA immigration initiative. Writes Ilya Shapiro:

[Judge] Hanen’s remedy consists of five components:

(1) all the lawyers at DOJ headquarters who litigate in the 26 states that challenged DAPA (most of them) have to go back to school for an annual ethics course taught by an outside expert;

(2) DOJ has to certify annually for five years that these lawyers are indeed going to school;

(3) the attorney general must report within 60 days “a comprehensive plan to prevent this unethical conduct from ever occurring again,” and “what steps she is taking to ensure that . . . the Justice Department trial lawyers tell the truth — the entire truth.”; …

Declaring that the lawyers had acted in “bad faith” and that their “conduct is certainly not worthy of any department whose name includes the word ‘Justice,'” Hanen added: “The court does not have the power to disbar the counsel in this case, but it does have the power to revoke the pro hac vice status of out-of-state lawyers who act unethically in court.” [Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner; Josh Blackman, NRO] But see: Orin Kerr asks whether the order exceeds the court’s jurisdiction.

An on-the-clock future for white-collar work in America?

Welcome to Thomas Perez’s new on-the-clock white-collar workplace, in which employers will be under the legal gun to monitor lunch breaks, revoke permission to telecommute, disallow “comp time” setups allowing a day with the kids, and forbid email or company-cellphone use after business hours. I’ve got a link-heavy new post at Cato surveying the damage after the Department of Labor’s final adoption of its new overtime rules, much criticized already in this space. The press is already reporting on the business consequences.