- Reason subpoena: “There’s no case here, and the Justice Department knows it.” [Kevin O’Brien, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Mike Godwin/R Street Institute, earlier]
- “Judge: Arresting Man For Criticizing Alton Selectmen Was ‘Pure Censorship'” [New Hampshire Public Radio]
- Billboard images of women “smiling for no reason” are now disallowed on grounds of sexism in Berlin’s Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain district; also, “Adult women — featured alone or not — must not be shown ‘occupied in the household with pleasure.'” [Anthony Faiola, Washington Post]
- Free speech, trademark law intersect in NAACP suit over critical parody [Paul Alan Levy]
- Without leeway for anonymous campaign speech, it’ll be hard to oust the retaliation-happy likes of Joe Arpaio [Robert Robb, Arizona Republic via Coyote]
- Legal blogger in court: “Partial Victory In Patterico’s Free Speech Case Before Ninth Circuit” [Ken at Popehat]
- European court: website liable for reader comments [ArsTechnica UK, Stanford CIS, Article 19, Delfi AS v. Estonia]
- Skull and crossbones to follow: San Francisco pols decree health warnings on soft drink, Frappuccino billboards [Steve Chapman]
- Judge criticizes feds’ punitive handling of AIG rescue as unlawful, but says no damages are owed to Hank Greenberg [Bloomberg, Thaya Knight/Cato, Gideon Kanner who predicted outcome, W$J]
- Congress resisting Obama/HUD scheme to force communities to build low-income housing [Jonathan Nelson/Economics21, Marc Thiessen]
- California, following New York, proposes 50 hours of mandatory pro bono work for prospective lawyers [John McGinnis]
- Five part Renee Lettow Lerner series on historical role and present-day decay of juries [Volokh Conspiracy, introduction, parts one, two, three, four, five] Related: Mike Rappaport and follow-up on Seventh Amendment, Liberty and Law.
- Latest Scotland drunk-driving blood threshold: Drivers “warned that having ‘no alcohol at all’ is the only way to ensure they stay within the limit” [Independent via Christopher Snowdon]
- How not to argue for bail reform: Scott Greenfield vs. NYT op-ed writer [Simple Justice]
“Recently, the consumer protection unit of the Orange County (CA) District Attorney’s Office filed suit against Unilever, parent company of AXE, accusing the company of fudging the packaging of its male grooming products.” The charges, which were filed concomitantly with a proposed settlement the same day, do not claim that Axe misstated the quantity of product contained by weight, but say its packaging employed “false bottoms, false sidewalls, false lids or false coverings” which “serve no legitimate purpose and mislead consumers as to the amount of product contained in the containers. …Apparently, the DA has never purchased a bag of potato chips.” It is unclear from the coverage whether Orange County consumers were constrained from ascertaining how much product was in one of the packages by, say, lifting it to see how heavy it was, or looking at the number of ounces on the label. In settlement (the same day) of the charges, the company agreed to pay $750,000 to Orange County and $24,000 to its D.A.’s office, and to take out ads in various California newspapers with $3 coupons good off a consumer purchase of Axe. [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use; Orange County Register]
The Orange County district attorney’s office under Tony Rackauckas is emerging as an Overlawyered favorite, having knocked an impressive $16 million out of Toyota in the sudden-acceleration affair even though the cars in question do not suddenly accelerate, of which $4 million went to a locally influential tort attorney; the office has also kept mum about arrangements it has with tort attorneys. And of course Rackauckas’s office has lately been embroiled in one of the nation’s most prominent scandals of prosecutorial abuse (with retaliation angle).
P.S. Oh, and here is coverage of “slack fill” class action suits organized by private lawyers against both Unilever/Axe and competitor Procter & Gamble, confirming that this wasn’t exactly a solitary frolic on the county’s part. More: Amy Alkon.
- Weirdly, Europe is more willing to legislate against pro-ISIS views than openly to argue against them [Nick Cohen]
- City of Inglewood, Calif. sues for copyright infringement over videos by critic of Mayor Butts [CBS L.A., Volokh, Paul Alan Levy]
- “Department Of Justice Uses Grand Jury Subpoena To Identify Anonymous Commenters on a Silk Road Post at Reason.com” [Ken White/Popehat, Wired, Scott Greenfield]
- Bans on the singing of sectarian songs, as in the Scotland case mentioned here recently, are perhaps less surprisingly also a part of law in Northern Ireland [Belfast Telegraph, BBC] UK government “now arresting and even jailing people simply for speaking their minds” [Brendan O’Neill]
- Broad “coalition of free speech, web publishing, and civil liberties advocates” oppose provisions in anti-“trafficking” bill creating criminal liability for classified ad sites; Senate passes bill anyway by 99-0 margin [Elizabeth Nolan Brown; more from Brown on bill (“What, you mean grown women AREN’T being abducted into sex slavery at Hobby Lobby stores in Oklahoma?” — @mattwelch), yet more on trafficking-panic numbers]
- Group libel laws, though approved in the 1952 case Beauharnais v. Illinois, are now widely regarded as no longer good law, but a Montana prosecutor doesn’t seem aware of that [Volokh] No, let’s not redefine “incitement” so as to allow the banning of more speech [Volokh]
- Supreme Court’s ruling in Elonis, the “true threats on Facebook” case, was speech-protective but minimalist [Ilya Shapiro, Orin Kerr, Ken White, Eugene Volokh]
They say the neon lights are doomed on Broadway:
The feds say many of Times Square’s huge and neon-lit billboards must come down or the city will lose about $90 million in federal highway money.
The edict comes from a 2012 law that makes Times Square an arterial route to the national highway system. And that puts it under the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, which limits signs to 1,200 square feet. It took the feds until now to realize that Times Square was included, Kramer reported.
Blame lawmakers, not the current DoT administrators, says Marc Scribner of CEI:
This is a classic example of Congress passing stupid laws, ordering regulators to implement them stupidly, and then forgetting about them until unintended consequences spring up down the line.
“A few years ago, California resident and beer aficionado Evan Parent learned that Blue Moon was actually made by MillerCoors.” He’s signed up as a named plaintiff in a class action lawsuit saying the brew shouldn’t have been labeled a craft beer given its maker and the volume of its production. A beverage lawyer says there is no standard for what counts as a craft beer. [Washington Examiner]
571 pages of urgings from the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, so much to disagree with [Elizabeth Harrington, Washington Free Beacon (obesity “interventionists” at workplaces, initiatives to limit advertising and time spent looking at screens); Glenn Lammi; Julie Gunlock; Paul C. (“Chip”) Knappenberger, Cato (environmental impacts of food production)]
More: “Strategies are needed to encourage the U.S. population to drink water when they are thirsty.” [from the report, quoted approvingly (naturally) by NYT’s Mark Bittman, via James Taranto] And Baylen Linnekin: “Consumers can also have their say through April 8. Open your mouth before the DGAC shuts it for you.”
Class-action lawyers sue PGA Tour demanding compensation for caddies’ use of bibs with advertising on them [ESPN]
The Wall Street Journal news-section A-hed tackles silly (sometimes deliberately so) disclaimers, such as IKEA’s gigantic sign portraying a hot dog with the disclaimer “*not actual size.” But it also notes the high costs that litigation or regulatory action can inflict when disclaimers are omitted. Our readers discussed the Red Bull case two years ago.