Posts tagged as:

administrative law

April 4 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 4, 2014

  • “Helmet maker not to blame in football player’s injury, jury finds” [L.A. Times]
  • “New Corporate Survey Illustrates Burdens Of Document Preservation And Benefits Of Proposed [Rule 26 Discovery] Reform” [Mark Chenoweth/WLF, Timothy Pratt/Abnormal Use, NJLRA, earlier]
  • Have divorce statistics been misreported? [Kay Hymowitz, Robert VerBruggen]
  • “Intoxicated Man Loses Big at Casino, Wants His Money Back” [Abnormal Use]
  • “SCOTUS Deferred to Executive Agencies. What Happened Next Will Infuriate You!” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato on Peri & Sons Farms v. Rivera]
  • Overtime scheme: Obama doesn’t “worry about being held accountable for the unwelcome consequences” [Steve Chapman] Advice for small business on complying with salaried employee classification [Suzanne Lucas ("Evil HR Lady") at Inc., earlier here and here]
  • Religious liberty, discrimination law and how spurious rights drive out the real [Jacob Sullum] Timely: “Harvard Hosts Conference on Religious Accommodation in the Age of Civil Rights” [TaxProf]

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Douglas Walburg faces potential liability of $16-48 million. What heinous acts caused such astronomical damages? A violation of 47 C.F.R. § 16.1200(a)(3)(iv), an FCC regulation that enables lawsuits against senders of unsolicited faxes.

Walburg, however, never sent any unsolicited faxes; he was sued under the regulation by a class of plaintiffs for failing to include opt-out language in faxes sent to those who expressly authorized Walburg to send them the faxes.

The Federal Communications Commission has now taken the position that a federal enactment known as the Hobbs Act “prevents federal courts from considering challenges to the validity of FCC regulations when raised as a defense in a private lawsuit.” The Cato Institute has joined the National Federation of Independent Business in an amicus brief seeking Supreme Court certiorari, supporting Walburg’s position “that the Eighth Circuit was wrong to deny him the right to judicial review without having to initiate a separate (and impossible) administrative review.” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]

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  • “Venue matters.” Enough to double value of med-mal case if filed in Baltimore city rather than suburbs? [Ron Miller] Mark Behrens and Cary Silverman on litigation tourism in Pennsylvania [TortsProf]
  • “Maybe [depositions] are like what some people say about war — vast periods of boredom interrupted by brief moments of terror.” [Steve McConnell, Drug and Device Law, also see Max Kennerly]
  • Centrality of procedure in American legal thinking dates back to Legal Realists and before [Paul McMahon, U.Penn. J. of Int'l Law/SSRN via Mass Tort Prof]
  • Company sues to challenge CPSC’s dissemination of unproven allegations about it in new public database: should judicial proceeding keep its name confidential? [Fair Warning]
  • Thesis of new Jerry Mashaw book: administrative state in U.S. long predated Progressive Era [Law and Liberty: Joseph Postell, Mike Rappaport] Relatedly, hallmark of administrative state said to be “prerogative,” i.e., power to make binding rules without new legislation [Michael Greve]
  • Lorax standing humor: even the Ninth Circuit might not have been able to help [Howard Wasserman, Prawfs]
  • “Formalism and Deference in Administrative Law” [panel at Federalist Society National Lawyers' Convention with Philip Hamburger, Kristin Hickman, Thomas Merrill, and Jide Okechuku Nzelibe, moderated by Jennifer Walker Elrod]

In this video from Cato’s Constitution Day, the Baker & Hostetler attorney (and friend of this site) discusses the Supreme Court’s recent decision according deference to agencies’ determinations of their own jurisdiction. The case, which split the conservative justices, was one of the rare defeats for a Cato Institute amicus position last term.

Related: Michael Greve, John Yoo and Mike Rappaport on rethinking administrative law and the era of deference.

Supreme Court roundup

by Walter Olson on August 30, 2013

  • Now with more detailed program descriptions: reserve your seat now for Cato’s 12th annual Constitution Day Sept. 17 in Washington, D.C.;
  • White House keeps losing SCOTUS cases 9-0, and there might be a lesson in that [Ilya Somin/USA Today, more]
  • “Another big term for amicus curiae briefs at the high court” [ABA Journal] “The Chief’s dissent reads over long stretches like something from the Cato Institute” [Michael Greve, Liberty Law Blog, on the administrative law case City of Arlington v. FCC, which was in fact one of the three cases where Cato's amicus position lost last term]
  • Ilya Shapiro on misconceptions about last term’s Shelby County case on voting rights [USA Today] and on the pending Schuette affirmative action case from Michigan [Cato]
  • “I count myself an originalist too.” — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg [CAC] Evaluating Ginsburg’s claim that the present Court is unusually activist [Jonathan Adler]
  • In Bond v. U.S., the treaty power case, Solicitor General urges high court not to overrule Missouri v. Holland [Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, more, earlier]
  • Cato seeks certiorari in cy pres (class action slush fund) case involving Facebook [amicus brief filed in Marek v. Lane, Ilya Shapiro]

The new four-judge decision is unanimous, which means every judge to consider the matter has now agreed that the NYC Department of Health overstepped its legal powers. And they’re right, as I explain here at Cato. Earlier here, here, here, etc.

One person who presumably had not expected today’s result is Emily Bazelon at Slate, who has claimed that Judge Milton Tingling’s trial-court decision was somehow a venture into conservative activism. None of the New York appellate judges heard from today give evidence of sharing that view.

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By a 6-3 vote yesterday, the Supreme Court decided that agencies deserve deference in determining the scope of their own jurisdiction. Bad move, argues Ilya Shapiro at Cato:

…why should courts defer to agency determinations regarding their own authority? … Whether a government body uses its power wisely or not, it cannot possibly be the judge of whether it has that power to begin with. Yet Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, essentially says that there’s no such thing as a dispute over whether an agency has power to regulate in a given area, just clear congressional lines of authority and ambiguous ones, with agencies having free rein in the latter circumstance unless their actions are “arbitrary and capricious” (what lawyers call Chevron deference, after a foundational 1984 case involving the oil company).

That makes no sense. As Cato explained in our brief, since the theory of deference is based on Congress’s affirmative grant of power to an agency over a defined jurisdiction, it’s incoherent to say that the failure to provide such power is an equal justification for deference. Furthermore, granting an agency deference over its own jurisdiction is an open invitation for agencies to aggrandize power that Congress never intended them to have. One doesn’t need a doctorate in public choice economics to recognize that we need checks on those who wield power because it’s in their nature to husband and grow that power.

Read the whole thing here.

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Environment roundup

by Walter Olson on May 8, 2013

  • Can EPA use subregulatory guidance to dodge judicial review of formal notice-and-comment rulemaking? Appeals court says no [Allison Wood, WLF]
  • “Outhouse blues: Salisbury Twp. tells 77-year-old to install $20,000 septic system he doesn’t want” [Lancaster (Pennsylvania) Online]
  • Denying attorney fee in oil spill case, Texas judge questions authenticity of client signature [ABA Journal, Chamber-backed Southeast Texas Record]
  • Why “climate justice” campaigns fail both the environment and the poor [Chris Foreman, The Breakthrough]
  • Does the Yale Alumni Magazine often side with plaintiffs who sue to muzzle critics? [Neela Banerjee on Michael Mann lawsuit against National Review, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Mark Steyn, etc.]
  • Anti-science, anti-humanity: Milan animal rights action trashes years of psychiatric research [Nature]
  • Parody Tom-Friedman-bot must be at it again: “best place to start” response to Boston attack “is with a carbon tax” [Tim Blair] Too darn hot: “Dems warn climate change could drive women to ‘transactional sex’” [The Hill]
  • Some California lawmakers seek to curb shakedown lawsuits under notorious Prop 65 chemical-labeling law [Sacramento Bee; Gov. Brown proposes reform]

Once again a court has struck down an overreaching Obama administration regulation. This time it was the Eleventh Circuit that dismissed as “absurd” a Department of Labor rationale for asserting its regulatory authority over the H-2B guestworker program. I’ve got more details at Cato at Liberty.

Justice Scalia and the Ninth Circuit, cats and dogs lying down together? The conservative justice was the only dissenter the other day in a 7-1 Supreme Court decision overturning the Ninth Circuit in the consolidated cases of Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center and Georgia-Pacific West, Inc. v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center. In doing so, the Court upheld (as the Ninth Circuit had not) the entitlement of the Environmental Protection Agency, and by implication other federal agencies, to deference in interpreting the meaning of its own regulations — so-called Auer deference, as distinguished from Chevron deference in the interpretation of Congressionally enacted statutes. Roger Pilon at Cato sorts it out and concludes that there is nothing paradoxical about the line-up: Scalia is distinctively vigilant against the dangers of excessive delegation of legislative power to executive-branch regulators, and deference tends to intensify the effects of such delegation. (Update: omitted link included now)

February 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 14, 2013

  • “From Chevron to Arlington: The Court and the Administrative State at Sea” [Michael Greve]
  • “Tawana Brawley ordered to pay settlement to man she accused of rape” [ABA Journal] False memories of being assaulted by Tigger, and how that can happen [Lowering the Bar; William Saletan, Slate, debunks a Gawker story, 2010]
  • “Portlandia — The Bed and Breakfast Inspector” [Armisen/Brownstein, IFC]
  • Writer at National Review Online sees Obama’s “pro-marriage” talk as logically entailing big new entitlement program, and applauds that [W. Bradford Wilcox]
  • “What’s Next For The Class Action Plaintiffs’ Bar? Getting Deputized By State Attorneys General” [Kevin Ranlett, Mayer Brown]
  • “Christian School’s Lawsuit May Test Supreme Court’s Religious Freedom Ruling in Hosanna-Tabor Case” [Fed Soc Blog]
  • “The Slippery Slope (Insurance Fears = No More Sledding)” [Free-Range Kids]

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The AEI scholar and author of The Upside-Down Constitution notes that administrative law battles at the D.C. Circuit have calmed down a lot in recent years — maybe too much so [Law and Liberty] And Ramesh Ponnuru reviews Greve’s new book here.

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