- Do lawyers find ways to litigate over the effects of the leap day, Feb. 29, that is inserted into the calendar every four years? Glad you asked [Kyle White, Abnormal Use]
- Weren’t regulations supposed to have fixed this, or is it that accommodation rules for air transport are legally separate from those for ordinary commerce? “More flights seeing odd animals as emotional support companions” [WHIO]
- Tiny desk and art magnets: Zen Magnets wins partial but important legal victory against Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) [Zen Magnets, Nancy Nord, earlier]
- Federal government, which has passed no law on private-sector LGBT bias, considers withholding funds to punish North Carolina for declining to have one [New York Times; earlier on Obama EEOC’s wishful effort to generate such coverage through reinterpretation of other law]
- Spirit of trade barriers: Nevada workers walk off job to protest use of workers from other U.S. states [Alex Tabarrok] Expansion of foreign trade “has revealed, not created, problems in the American economy” [Scott Lincicome] More: “Limiting trade with low-wage countries as severely as Sanders wants to would hurt the very poorest people on Earth. A lot.” [Zack Beauchamp, Vox; related Jordan Weissmann, Slate (what Sanders told NYDN “should be absolutely chilling to the developing world… inhumane”)]
- Latest ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) cause célèbre is over 6-year-old Lexi, whose world is getting upended because of her 1.5% Choctaw descent (a great-great-great-great grandparent on her father’s side) [Christina Sandefur/Federalist Society blog, Naomi Schaefer Riley, New York Post earlier generally on ICWA and in my writing at Reason and Cato on the Adoptive Couple case]
“Identity politics can leave a trail of broken bodies and broken hearts… [ICWA treats] children, however attenuated or imaginary their Indian ancestry, as little trophies for tribal power.” George Will (alternate link) on a law I’ve also written about, the Indian Child Welfare Act:
The act empowers tribes to abort adoption proceedings, or even take children from foster homes, solely because the children have even a minuscule quantum of American Indian blood. Although, remember, this act is supposedly not about race….
In final adoption hearings in Arizona, a judge asks, “Does this child contain any Native American blood?” It is revolting that judicial proceedings in the United States can turn on questions about group rights deriving from “blood.”… This is discordant with the inherent individualism of the nation’s foundational natural rights tradition, which is incompatible with the ICWA. It should be overturned or revised before more bodies and hearts are broken.
Live now: The Goldwater Institute has filed a multi-sided challenge to the operation of the Indian Child Welfare Act. AD v. Washburn; website at EqualProtection.org; investigative report Death on a Reservation; Goldwater policy paper. More updates will follow.
Related: in Minnesota, a Twin Cities couple represented by attorney Mark Fiddler has filed suit saying that ICWA violates their constitutional rights by requiring that they notify the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe before proceeding with plans to allow a non-Indian couple to adopt their infant. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune] Also: Johnston Moore, Children Deserve Families.
- “Lawyers Won 10x Fee Payoff By Avoiding Competition, Objector Claims” [Daniel Fisher, Center for Class Action Fairness on Capital One TCPA settlement]
- DMCA surprise: “Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles.” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Pete Bigelow, AutoBlog]
- Comments deadline May 19 on proposed Indian Child Welfare Act regulations; American Academy of Adoption Attorneys files comments warning they go beyond statute, will harm kids [related group, earlier and general]
- Asbestos lawsuits are “economic engine” of rural Edwardsville, Ill. [Associated Press]
- Chicago pays damages to victims of police torture, suggestively labeled “reparations” [Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post, thanks for quote]
- Court dismisses pro se litigant’s handwritten “God v. gays” complaint for lack of basis for federal jurisdiction, other predictable deficiencies [Volokh, Lowering the Bar and followup]
- “Starbucks not liable in police coffee-spill case, jury decides” [WRAL, earlier]
- “The FAA Says You Can’t Post Drone Videos on YouTube” [Vice] Agency rethinking position following outcry? [Photography Is Not a Crime]
- Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) proposes bill directing Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to issue safety rules for detergent pods [Paula Bolyard, Heartland, quotes me; earlier] Bonus: Lenore Skenazy on CPSC zipper hooded sweatshirt recall;
- New Jersey high court — Gov. Christie’s appointees included — will now take over direct enforcement of court’s previous decisions (“Mount Laurel”) requiring towns to adopt low-income housing quotas [Bergen County Record, earlier]
- Bureau of Indian Affairs revises federal guidelines on Indian Child Welfare Act, and a nonprofit group of adoption attorneys says that not only were it and other stakeholder groups not consulted, but “entire sections” of the revision “completely disregard the best interest of children,” something ICWA alas encourages by its text [American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, earlier]
- Should winning class action plaintiff lawyers be able to mark up their expenses, such as photocopying, as two law professors propose? [Andrew Trask last year]
- “Attorney who appeared in more than 3,000 asbestos cases disbarred … ‘Excuse Man’ also loses license” [Chamber-backed Madison-St. Clair Record]
- If you see an online ad for $199 divorce, maybe think twice before giving them your debit card info over the phone [KTVK, Phoenix]
A New Jersey judge has ruled that a mother-to-be doesn’t have to notify the estranged unwed father that she is going into labor or let him into the delivery room [ABA Journal] Meanwhile, a suit filed on behalf of unwed fathers is challenging Utah’s adoption laws, which they say improperly enable mothers from out of state to visit Utah for purposes of depriving unwed fathers of rights of notification or objection they would otherwise enjoy under their home state’s law [Salt Lake Tribune]
There are so many reasons to resist the FDA on this action — really, as many reasons as there are individual 23andme users. Some of us want to seek out distant relatives and clues about national origins, or satisfy curiosity about patterns of disease in our family lines. For adoptive families, home genome testing can be hugely valuable in cases where one knows little about the medical history of an adoptee’s birthfamily. It’s our body, and our right to inform ourselves about it — or so we thought.
Some are blaming the company for rolling out the popular service in the absence of a clear regulatory go-ahead, and, in recent months, ignoring repeated signals of the FDA’s wish that it submit to comprehensive regulation that would greatly drive up the cost of its service. But other commentators have suggested that the firm has some pretty decent legal arguments that its service is not subject to regulation as a diagnostic test or “medical device” (genetic predispositions are not diagnoses). As an information-based service, it might even enjoy protection under the First Amendment. Admittedly, the company waved a red flag in front of regulators when it launched a marketing campaign that stressed the possible health benefits of knowing one’s genetic predispositions. But as Timothy Lee argues at the Washington Post:
Having more information about your health status is never dangerous by itself. It only becomes dangerous if patients use it to make dangerous medical decisions. But most dangerous medical decisions can’t be made unilaterally; they generally require the assistance of licensed medical professionals who will do their own assessment of the situation before performing procedures that could harm patients.
The FDA very likely has decent legal grounds to forbear from a crackdown should it choose to. But the key takeaway sentence from Matthew Herper’s piece in Forbes criticizing the company is: “This is not the way to deal with a powerful government regulator.” Disrespectful, anti-authority attitudes from someone an agency intends to regulate? Ask former Buckyballs CEO Craig Zucker where that gets you.
What can users, potential users, and well-wishers do?
* “First, download your 23andMe raw results now if you have them,” warns Razib Khan at Gene Expression.
* If you like signing Change.org petitions, there’s one here asking the FDA to back off.
* In a separate piece for Slate, Khan suggests where the situation might head before long: services like this can move offshore. All the relevant information consumers want from them can be delivered via the web. In the mean time a highly innovative and valuable enterprise will have been pushed out of the U.S. to some freer part of the globe, but maybe we need to get used to that happening.
And then? It may take a while before our government works up the nerve to ban mailing a saliva sample to a foreign address. Based on existing trends, I’d guess the more likely intervention, circa 2018 or so, would be for the Treasury to direct credit card companies not to process payments from U.S. residents to genome kit providers. Would we have the spirit to resist then? And if then, why not now? More: Alex Tabarrok, Slate Star Codex (by analogy, “banning people from weighing themselves without a prescription is neither clinically nor ethically sound,” although weight awareness sometimes leads patients into unwise health decisions), Nita Farahany, Brad Warbiany, earlier 2011. Alex Tabarrok’s post is especially worth reading, an excerpt:
…Indeed, genetic tests are already regulated. To be precise, the labs that perform genetic tests are regulated by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) as overseen by the CMS (here is an excellent primer). The CLIA requires all labs, including the labs used by 23andMe, to be inspected for quality control, record keeping and the qualifications of their personnel. The goal is to ensure that the tests are accurate, reliable, timely, confidential and not risky to patients. …
…the FDA wants to judge not the analytic validity of the tests, whether the tests accurately read the genetic code as the firms promise (already regulated under the CLIA) but the clinical validity, whether particular identified alleles are causal for conditions or disease. The latter requirement is the death-knell for the products because of the expense and time it takes to prove specific genes are causal for diseases….
The FDA also has the relationship between testing and clinical validity ass-backward. The FDA wants to say no to testing until clinical validity is established but we are never going to discover clinical validity until we have mass testing.
Meanwhile, in yet another indication that propositions that are controversial in the rest of the country are uncontroversial in the American Bar Association, the ABA last month endorsed a resolution (PDF) calling for “full compliance” with, and in general uncritically endorsing the operation of, the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978; reportedly, no dissenting voice was raised.
The New Republic, meanwhile, gives favorable ink to what it calls the “new anti-adoption movement.” While adoption poses plenty of genuine and difficult ethical and policy issues that deserve a full airing (and even the occasional train wreck at its far fringes; reactions here (PDF), here) sloganeering about “reproductive justice” and intimations of false consciousness (“subtle brainwashing”) on the part of birthmothers who choose adoptive homes for their children are likely to obscure the good that adoption can do [Balding/Yan, SSRN via @tylercowen]
- Disabilities treaty might hit Senate floor soon; Sen. Hatch opposes [The Hill, Hatch, Heritage; earlier here, here, etc.]
- Right to expropriate trumps right to privacy? Georgetown lawprof claims Swiss bank confidentiality violates human rights [Stephen Cohen, SSRN via TaxProf]
- No thanks, we like our First Amendment: curbs on internet “hate speech” top agenda of UN committee;
- You know those unsound “no recognition of foreign law” bills popular in some state legislatures? Among their unintended effects could be to interfere with recognition of some international adoptions [Jefferson City, Mo. News Tribune, earlier] Court strikes down Oklahoma sharia ban [NPR]
- Two views of the U.N. Small Arms Treaty, which President Obama is due to sign any day now [Bob Barr/Washington Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (editorial dismisses issue as mere “scarelore”)]
- Conservatives for looser asylum laws? About the German homeschooler case [Ann Althouse]
- Claim: international law forbids complicity in the death penalty [Bharat Malkani, OJ] Hans Bader on European court’s invalidation of “whole-life” sentences [CEI “Open Market”]
- “The War of Law: How New International Law Undermines Democratic Sovereignty” [Jon Kyl, Douglas J. Feith, and John Fonte, Foreign Affairs; Peter Spiro, OJ; related ForeignPolicy.com interview with Kenneth Anderson and Brett Schaefer]