- “What student protestors should learn from bygone free speech fights” [Conor Friedersdorf]
- You’d expect Oberlin students to have some of the very best demands and you won’t be disappointed [Blake Neff/Daily Caller, my earlier Storify on student demands around the country] “Soon enough, microaggression monitoring was on the table” at Occidental College, and secret snitches will help [Scott Greenfield] President of Washington, D.C.’s American University responds to student demands. tl;dr version: “How high?”
- Diversity means cracking down on religious colleges that discriminate based on church dogma. Right? [Scott Greenfield] Human Rights Campaign huffs and puffs about (perfectly legal) religious-college Title IX exemptions [Washington Post, HRC] Canadian judge: B.C. provincial law society wrongly barred accreditation for conservative Christian law school [Globe and Mail, earlier]
- Just out: “Free Speech on College Campuses” issue of Cato Unbound leads with Greg Lukianoff (“Campus Free Speech Has Been in Trouble for a Long Time”), with responses to follow from Eric Posner and Catherine Ross;
- The year in campus hysteria [Ashe Schow/Examiner]
- Feds’ diversity bureaucracy has engaged in epic power grab in past couple of years, Congress’s omnibus spending bill rewards them with 7 percent funding hike [PowerLine, Bader and earlier, Schow/Examiner]
- “ACLU Silence Enables Campus Anti-free Speech Movement” [Nat Hentoff; related, Emily Ekins]
- You could see this coming: ACLU says its support for RFRA religious accommodation laws no longer applies in discrimination law context [David Bernstein]
- Root causes of violence: California anti-videogame, anti-gun pol Leland Yee cops a racketeering plea after spectacular arms-smuggling sting [Shackford/Reason, plea agreement via Popehat, earlier]
- FDA’s trans fat ban will have litigation implications [Glenn Lammi, WLF] And we mentioned the palm-oil angle earlier: “Why Environmentalists Are Afraid of the FDA’s Attack on Trans Fats” [Jason Plautz, National Journal]
- An economic liberty decision: “Texas Supreme Court overturns licensing requirements for eyebrow threaders” [Houston Chronicle, Carrie Sheffield/Opportunity Lives, Eugene Volokh, David Bernstein on Don Willett concurrence rebuking Lochner-phobia]
- In trial-lawyer-sourced screed against class action reform, reporter David Lazarus seems to imagine bone break cases are currently sued as class actions [L.A. Times]
- NYC taxi commission: OK, we don’t actually need to pre-clear every update of ride-sharing app software [Kristian Stout/Truth on the Market, earlier]
- And thanks for Overlawyered mention: “Are happier lawyers, cheaper legal fees on the horizon?” [Glenn Reynolds, USA Today]
In McCullen v. Coakley, the Supreme Court will reconsider its 2000 decision in Hill v. Colorado, which upheld a law prohibiting (among other things) leafleting and some other forms of peaceful protest within 100 feet of an abortion facility. (Massachusetts in 2007 passed a similar law which is now under challenge.) Noted civil libertarian Floyd Abrams, writing in the WSJ, sees the case as a straightforward one of supporting free speech for a position with which he happens to disagree. But the ACLU, Abrams notes, has changed its position between the earlier case and this one, and in a speech-unfriendly direction:
In a friend-of-the-court brief in Hill, the ACLU argued that because the Colorado statute “burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to accomplish the state’s goal,” the statute was facially unconstitutional. When the 2007 statute was proposed in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts ACLU opposed it, stating that “[i]f the message is unwelcome, as it often will be outside abortion clinics, the constitutionally appropriate response in a public forum is for the listener to walk away.”
But now that McCullen has reached the Supreme Court, both ACLU groups have switched sides. Their position, their brief states, has “evolved over time” and the Massachusetts law is, after all, constitutional on its face. Of course, the First Amendment has not changed in the 14 years between the filing of the ACLU briefs in Hill and McCullen; the ACLU has.
The old ACLU got it right.
“The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal action against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, alleging that its ethical guidelines given to Catholic hospitals resulted in negligent care for a miscarrying woman.” The suit, in the name of a Muskegon, Mich. woman who allegedly experienced pain and suffering by not being advised at once to abort a doomed fetus, also names as defendants three individuals who have chaired a church-affiliated body by the name of Catholic Health Ministries. The suit does not however name as a defendant Mercy Health Partners, where plaintiff Tamesha Means was treated, nor does either the Bishops’ Conference nor CHM own Mercy. So what’s the legal theory? Well, the bishops issued ethical guidelines they expected Catholic-affiliated hospitals to follow, and CHM acted as Mercy’s “Catholic sponsor” vouching for its compliance with those guidelines. So maybe the theory consists of “incitement to commit malpractice.” Is it rude to point out that the law recognizes no tort of that sort? [ABA Journal, MLive, Alex Stein/Bill of Health (background on Michigan med-mal law)] See also: Seth Lipsky, N.Y. Post (“astounding” suit menaces defendants for hewing to their view of spiritual truths).
Turned down by all 150 (or however many) Denver bakers in their quest for a wedding cake, this couple had no choice but to sue. Oh, not really: they had an endless supply of perfectly good alternative options, but they apparently wanted to make a point by suing, as did the ACLU which represented them. [Associated Press; earlier 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).
As I mentioned in my CNN piece on Friday, various voices are calling for the federal prosecution of George Zimmerman following his acquittal on state-court charges [commentary about that: Jonathan Adler, Jacob Sullum, Steve Chapman, Eugene Volokh; see also the update to my Friday post regarding the possibility of “hate crime” charges] In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) takes the view that a federal prosecution would be improper double jeopardy, implicitly rebuking its own executive director, Anthony Romero, who had suggested otherwise in early comments to the press following the verdict [TalkLeft (“the organization came to its senses”), Politico, text of letter from Laura Murphy, director of ACLU Washington Office, PDF; see also David Bernstein]
As I noted in my CNN piece, the exception for “dual sovereignty” prosecutions arose in a 1959 Supreme Court case called Bartkus v. Illinois, decided 5-4, in which the dissenters were the four liberals: Earl Warren, William Douglas, Hugo Black and William Brennan. Here are a few things that Hugo Black had to say in his dissent, joined by Douglas and Warren: “Fear and abhorrence of governmental power to try people twice for the same conduct is one of the oldest ideas found in western civilization,” one that did not disappear “even in the Dark Ages.” And “retrials after acquittal have been considered particularly obnoxious, worse even, in the eyes of many, than retrials after conviction.” In short, “double prosecutions for the same offense” are “contrary to the spirit of our free country.” (& welcome Instapundit, InsiderOnline readers)
“Attention, liberals: The ACLU wouldn’t be able to sue the NSA if it weren’t for Citizens United.” [Wendy Kaminer, The Atlantic]
- FATCA: “Another American Turns in Passport to Protest Idiotic New Banking Regulations” [Matt Welch, earlier]
- Cato president John Allison discusses his new book “The Financial Crisis and the Free-Market Cure” [video, earlier; John Tamny, Forbes]
- “The Unintended Consequences of Cracking Down on Payday Lenders” [A. Barton Hinkle, earlier]
- Trial lawyers’ uses for “say on pay” [Bainbridge] Suits after mergers [Kevin LaCroix on Boris Feldman article]
- Massachusetts law restricting foreclosures is likely to backfire [Anthony Randazzo] “Foreclose on state AGs” [Michael Greve, Law and Liberty]
- ACLU (ACLU?) sues Morgan Stanley over allegedly predatory loans [Althouse] Suing Wells Fargo twice is not very nice [Reynolds Holding, Reuters]
- “More evidence that Dodd-Frank is hurting small banks” [Ammon Simon, earlier]
“Cranston Mayor Allan Fung says he’s ‘utterly disappointed’ the school district ended the gender-based events after the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter of complaint last spring.” [CBS Boston]
P.S. Or, to sum up in a different way: “It became necessary to destroy the village in order to make it more inclusive.” (& Alkon)