The ban applies to privately owned homes that share a party wall with another home. [ABC News] The rationale, per city official Rebecca Woodbury:
“It doesn’t matter if it’s owner-occupied or renter-occupied. We didn’t want to discriminate. The distinguishing feature is the shared wall.” As justification for the rule, she cited studies showing that secondhand smoke seeped through ventilating ducts and walls, even through cracks [emphasis added -- W.O.]. “It depends on a building’s construction,” she said, “but it does affect the unit next door, with the negative health impacts due to smoke.”
San Rafael is in affluent Marin County just north of San Francisco. Woodbury said there had been hardly any opposition to the ordinance: “We have a very low percentage of smokers in the county,” she said. On proposals in Berkeley, Calif. to ban some smoking in private homes, see this recent post.
P.S. With end-of-year donation time coming on, I won’t be writing any checks to groups like the American Lung Association that support this sort of thing. Plenty of deserving health and research charities do great work while being respectful of individual liberty and property rights.
Following through on earlier rumblings, New York City’s mayor proposes a citywide ban on Styrofoam cups and plates [New York Post, earlier, Baltimore, suburban Boston]
Someone must have deactivated the Dallas Morning News’s B.S. detectors [Amy Alkon] The paper’s editors uncritically cheer new proposals from Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Ted Poe for legal changes including wider use of forfeiture and more draconian sentences for johns. More: “There have been two compelling-prostitution cases filed in Harris County this year. Not 300,000. Two.” [Mark Bennett] Yet more: the paper corrected 11/24.
Comments from my Cato Institute colleagues Roger Pilon and Ilya Shapiro, as well as CEI’s Hans Bader. A “totally risk-free strategy for Democrats, as long as they are never again in the minority.” [Lowering the Bar] Patterico on the elegant consistency of the New York Times editorial page over the years (it is consistent, once you know to look for the pattern) and an unheeded 2005 prayer (YouTube, auto-plays) from then-Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.). And some further observations from Jonathan Adler.
P.S. Further thoughts from Roger Pilon regarding the immediate focal point of the struggle, the three nominations to the D.C. Circuit:
…a second point, too little noted, concerns the implications from there being numerous “judicial emergencies” in the other circuits — vacancies in seriously overworked circuits for which the president hasn’t even named anyone. Judicial emergencies have increased 90 percent since 2006, and the vacancies with nominees have declined from 60 percent to 47 percent. Yet rather than attend to filling those vacancies, Obama and Reid are focused on adding three more judges to the already seriously underworked and overstaffed DC Circuit. That speaks volumes, of course, about what their agenda is. As I wrote yesterday, the DC Circuit’s docket is mostly about challenges to administrative decisions. Judges in such cases have considerable discretion about whether or not to defer to the judgment of those agencies. If you want to rule by executive diktat, as Obama plainly does, you’ll want “your people” on that court, deferring to “your people” at EPA, HHS, OSHA, the FEC, the IRS, and so on down the line. Let the folks out in the country wait a little longer to get justice.
P.P.S. And relatedly from Mickey Kaus:
Regulation is D.C.’s economic substructure, its mode of production, as Marx might say – even more so than legislation. Those big gleaming office buildings aren’t filled with Congressional lobbyists! They’re filled with administrative lawyers. Now, with a full 11 member court stacked to favor Democrats, there will be even more rules to litigate, more counsel to hire, more mansions to house them and restaurants to feed them. Whatever happens in the rest of America, the capital’s economic future is secure.
They should erect a statue of Harry Reid outside the Mazza Gallerie.
Long Island: “The head of Suffolk’s new Traffic & Parking Violations Agency on Thursday defended the controversial policy of charging an administrative fee even on tickets that are dismissed.” [Newsday]
I’ve got a new post at Cato asking how that could have come to be. Earlier on Elane Photography v. Willock here, here, etc.
Reacting to my Cato post, a couple of readers have responded, in effect: Isn’t the ACLU just a doctrinaire Left-liberal organization these days, rather than a bulwark of civil liberties? To which my answer is: I’d describe it as an organization with lively internal divisions, some factions of which push it in a doctrinaire Left direction, others of which want it to be more of a robust civil liberties organization. (As witness last year’s “Mayors vs. Chick-Fil-A” controversy, in which the ACLU of Illinois took a strong and clear civil libertarian stand while the ACLU of Massachusetts seemed to lean more toward a doctrinaire-Left position.) Some speak ironically of the “civil liberties caucus” that soldiers on thanklessly within the ACLU. I want to encourage that caucus and let it know it is appreciated. (& Stephen Richer/Purple Elephant, Coyote).
From FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), on a controversy we’ve followed closely over the course of the year:
The federal government is backing away from the nationwide “blueprint” for campus speech restrictions issued this May by the Departments of Education and Justice. The agencies’ settlement with the University of Montana sought to impose new, unconstitutional speech restrictions, due process abuses, and an overbroad definition of sexual harassment and proclaimed the agreement to be “a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country.”
But in a letter sent last week to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the new head of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Catherine Lhamon, said that “the agreement in the Montana case represents the resolution of that particular case and not OCR or DOJ policy.”
FIRE adds that the Department’s recent actions in cases involving public colleges no longer insist on “the worst features of the Montana settlement.”
In the name of so-called universal design — a much-promoted theory that disabled-accessibility features should be designed into all structures, public or private, from the start — Vancouver is adopting building code changes that prohibit use of doorknobs in favor of levers and other mechanisms that are more easily used by the handicapped and elderly. While the ban will apply only to new construction, the city has already deferred to the new thinking by replacing the ornate doorknobs in its Art Deco-era City Hall. Building experts see doorknob bans in private housing construction as likely to spread in the years ahead. [Vancouver Sun] Perennial Overlawyered bete noire Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) has in recent Congresses introduced something called the Inclusive Home Design Act which would mandate some accessibility features in all federally assisted newly constructed housing units.
More: “Vancouver Banned Doorknobs. Good,” writes Colin Lecher at Popular Science. Because the less diversity and private choice and historical continuity, the better.
The San Antonio Four, women released after more than a decade of imprisonment over child-abuse crimes they say they never committed, talk to NBC News. “Plea deals were offered, but they refused to accept them on the grounds that they were innocent.” One of the two accusers (pre-teens at the time) has recanted, the other sticks by her story.
Judge Laurence Silberman, writing for the panel on the Yucca Mountain case: “The [Energy] Secretary’s position is so obviously disingenuous that we have no confidence that another remand would serve any purpose.” [NARUC v. Dept. of Energy, PDF via Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E]
The Economist has a short piece on the unseemly business of probation and collections companies operating under government contract that leverage misdemeanors and petty fines levied on hapless citizens into larger ongoing obligations. Local police and sheriffs’ departments share in the booty as well as sometimes lending enforcement muscle.
“It’s good that the FDA lifted the ban on Bexsero but why should Americans have to wait for the FDA?” [Alex Tabarrok, Bloomberg]