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animal rights

Medical roundup

by Walter Olson on September 23, 2014

  • Down comes the pediatrician’s wall of baby pictures, another HIPAA casualty [Anemona Hartocollis/NY Times, resulting letters to the editor, earlier, NPR with somewhat different slant]
  • Had the Washington Post stayed on story of Maryland health exchange fiasco, it might have held power to account [my Free State Notes]
  • FDA rules requiring that certain drugs be kept out of hands of anyone but patients may inadvertently establish monopoly for some off-patent compounds [Derek Lowe via Alex Tabarrok]
  • Richard Epstein argues Hobby Lobby right result, wrong reasoning [new Cato Supreme Court Review, more]
  • Defensive medicine: so much easier to go ahead and order the ultrasound [White Coat]
  • Fate of melanoma-scanning device and the FDA [Alex Tabarrok via Elizabeth Nolan Brown] Can agency learn from European private certification? [more]
  • Seredipitous offshoot of study on rats helped premature infants; but would this have been quite as likely to appear in HuffPo if framed as “what we owe lab-animal research” rather than “what we owe federal research”? [Sam Stein; related, first volunteer given new trial Ebola vaccine, and a hat tip to lab-animal research on that too [Wellcome, U.K.]

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A year and a half ago, as I noted at the time, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) “agreed to pay $9.3 million to settle racketeering and other charges arising from alleged litigation abuse in lawsuits beginning in 2000 over elephant welfare,” while “other defendants in the countersuit, including the Humane Society of the U.S., have declined to settle [with Feld Entertainment/Ringling Bros.] and remain in the litigation.” Now the Humane Society and other groups have agreed to pay more than $15 million, suggesting the ASCPA settlement was not a freak occurrence. [AP/Houston Chronicle, Charles Schelle/Bradenton Herald]

My piece on the ASPCA settlement is here and Overlawyered coverage of the long-running litigation here.

  • “A Poster Child for Overcriminalization: The History of the Lacey Act” [Jarrett Dieterle/Point of Law; earlier] “Strict Obama administration ivory ban infuriates musicians” [Bluegrass Nation/Daily Caller]
  • California business didn’t think nutty Prop 65 warning regime could get worse, Brown administration might prove them wrong [Michael Feeley et al., JD Supra]
  • “We’re definitely asking a judge to make a leap of faith here”: profile of Steven Wise, who files suits on behalf of chimps and other non-human “plaintiffs” [New York Times Magazine, earlier on Wise]
  • Quin Hillyer gives thumbs down to Louisiana coastal wetlands suit [Baton Rouge Advocate, earlier]
  • James Huffman on the public trust doctrine [Hoover]
  • John Steele Gordon on California drought [Commentary]
  • “It’s easier to engage and organize people around ‘fracking’ than a complicated list of practices.” [L.A. Business Journal]

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Environmental roundup

by Walter Olson on January 31, 2014

  • Behind costly EPA crackdown on wood-burning stoves, a whiff of sweetheart lawsuits? [Larry Bell]
  • Reminder: California’s Prop 65 doesn’t actually improve public health, makes lawyers rich, and harasses business [Michael Marlow, WSJ]
  • “What I learned from six months of GMO research: None of it matters” [Nathanael Johnson, Grist]
  • Eminent domain threatens store owner in Fire Island’s Saltaire [NYP]
  • In case you haven’t seen this one: chemical content of all-natural foods [James Kennedy Monash]
  • “The court ordered that the county pay the turtles’ attorneys fees.” [Dan Lewis, Now I Know]
  • “On the government’s books, the switch [from steel to aluminum in Ford's new F-150 pickup] is a winner because MPG goes up.” [William Baldwin, Forbes]

Environmental roundup

by Walter Olson on January 8, 2014

  • “A Milestone to Celebrate: I Have Closed All My Businesses in Ventura County, California” [Coyote, earlier]
  • “Louisiana Judge Ends Katrina Flooding Lawsuits Against Feds” [AP/Insurance Journal]
  • “Some shoppers who reuse plastic bags to dispose of animal waste will miss them” [L.A. Times via Alkon]
  • Alameda County, Calif. conscripts out-of-state drugmakers into product disposal program: public choice problem, constitutionality problem or both? [Glenn Lammi, WLF]
  • “Connecticut, Drunk on Power, Uses Bottle Bill to Steal Money” [Ilya Shapiro]
  • “If successful, the New York lawsuits would extend the scope of the [habeas corpus] writ to an undefined array of nonhuman creatures.” [Jim Huffman, Daily Caller]
  • Clean Water Act citizen suits never intended to be race to courthouse between officialdom, bounty hunters [Lammi, WLF on Eleventh Circuit ruling]
  • Let’s stop measuring congestion, it just makes our environmental plans look bad [Randal O'Toole, David Henderson on California policy]

On a practical level, corporate and organizational “personhood” has worked coherently for more than a century. Will this? [Reuters, Science; earlier on corporate personhood ("established and relatively uncontroversial," and progressive in its legal implications)] A Twitter reaction: “If they get the right to air political ads they can only improve the discourse.” [@jacobgrier]

More seriously, Prof. Bainbridge provided an answer to the question both on Twitter (“We treat corporations as people because it is a useful fiction. Animals as persons is not useful.”) and then in a longer blog post, which concludes:

The problem, I believe, is that attempts to define the debate in moral or philosophical terms ignores the basic fact that the rationale for corporate personhood sounds in neither. Instead, it is based on practicality and utility. Put another way, we treat the corporation as a legal person because doing so has proven to be a highly efficient way for real people to organize their business activities and to vindicate their rights. Put yet another way, we treat the corporation as a legal person because it is a nexus of contracts between real persons. Which is something no animal can ever be.

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“Even though I was always on public property when I filmed the horrors I saw outside that slaughterhouse in February, I became the first person charged under one of these ‘ag-gag’ laws.” [Amy Meyer, Washington Post, Utah]

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]

A noted Swiss animal rights lawyer who’s campaigning for wider assignment of lawyers to represent animals’ interests “once represented a dead fish that had been caught, killed, and eaten” [Global Legal Post via John Steele, Legal Ethics Forum; title courtesy @KenParish1]

P.S. From last year (but new to us), this Jon Stewart segment on the unsuccessful PETA lawsuit against Sea World for holding whales in “involuntary servitude.”

Environment roundup

by Walter Olson on March 1, 2013

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ASPCA reactions

by Walter Olson on January 11, 2013

The head of the ASPCA writes to the New York Post about my op-ed piece. To recap the particular assertion to which he’s responding, if you want to support local shelter and rescue work, you’re much better off giving locally than you are writing a check to this national group and hoping a little trickles down through grants, special projects and the like.

Another reaction: Andy Vance, Farm Progress.

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Food roundup

by Walter Olson on January 8, 2013

  • New thinner-isn’t-healthier study should give pause [Paul Campos, NYT]
  • Inspectors order Minnesota soda shop to yank candy cigarettes, bubble gum cigars [Daily Caller]
  • Cleveland might have its own version of Pike Place or Reading Terminal Market, if not for… [Nick Gillespie]
  • Regulators took it down: “San Francisco’s Libertarian Food Market Is Closing” [Baylen Linnekin]
  • How brutal is vegetarianism to animals? [Mike Archer via Tyler Cowen]
  • Crazy: S.F. mulls zoning ban on new restaurants to protect existing ones [Linnekin] How Chicago suppresses food trucks [Katherine Mangu-Ward]
  • Federal calorie labeling rules will burden restaurants [Wash. Times]

I’m in this morning’s New York Post with an opinion piece about the thoroughgoing debacle the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) got itself into with a decade-long lawsuit charging mistreatment of elephants at the Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey Circuses (earlier). Last month ASPCA agreed to pay Ringling’s owner $9.3 million to settle charges of litigation abuse. Other defendants in the countersuit, including the Humane Society of the U.S., have declined to settle and remain in the litigation.

Later in the piece I draw a parallel to the recently dismissed Hudson Farm litigation in Maryland, in which a judge lambasted Waterkeeper Alliance for shoddy litigation conduct in a Clean Water Act suit. Is it worth rethinking the whole policy, which dates back to 1970, of broad tax deductibility for suing people in “cause litigation”? Related from Ted Frank at Point of Law.

P.S. The comments section on the Post piece is more substantive than most, and includes a statement from HSUS. (& response from ASPCA head)

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According to a press release from Feld Entertainment, which owns the Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey circus, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has agreed to pay $9.3 million to settle racketeering and other charges arising from alleged litigation abuse in lawsuits beginning in 2000 over elephant welfare. Feld says ASPCA and others paid a plaintiff and fact witness in the case whose testimony a judge described as not credible. It says it intends to continue suing other animal-welfare groups that it has named in connection with the episode, including the Humane Society of the United States, and Fund for Animals, as well as attorneys. [more on circus's side of dispute; earlier here, here, here, here] More: John Steele, Legal Ethics Forum.

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Environment roundup

by Walter Olson on October 29, 2012

  • Climate prof Michael Mann sues critics including National Review, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Mark Steyn, and Rand Simberg [Ken at Popehat, Scientific American, Ted Frank (noting Ars Technica's fair-weather disapproval of SLAPP suits), Adler and more]
  • California polls show once-massive support for Prop 37 ebbing away; is there any major newspaper in the state that likes the measure? [L.A. Times, San Jose Mercury News, San Diego U-T; earlier here, here, etc.] Views of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on the general question of genetic modification labeling [statement, PDF] Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution refutes predictably lame views of Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan (stance tactfully assessed as “mood affiliation”) and discusses the impact on pesticide use with Greg Conko; more from WLF. At least Prop 37 has Michelle Lerach, hmmm [No on 37]
  • “So the two technologies most reliably and stridently opposed by the environmental movement—genetic modification and fracking—have been the two technologies that most reliably cut carbon emissions.” [Matt Ridley, WSJ]
  • “Texas v. EPA Litigation Scorecard” [Josiah Neeley, Texas Public Policy Foundation, PDF]
  • High-visibility public chemophobe Nicholas Kristof turns his garish and buzzing searchlight on formaldehyde [Angela Logomasini, CEI]
  • Per its terms, new ordinance in Yellow Springs, Ohio, “recognizes the legally enforceable Rights of Nature to exist and flourish. Residents of the village shall possess legal standing to enforce those rights on behalf of natural communities and ecosystems.” [Wesley Smith, NRO]
  • How EPA regulates without rulemaking: sue-and-settle, guidance documents, emergency powers [Ryan Young and Wayne Crews, CEI]

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October 26 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 26, 2012

  • Remembering George McGovern: “The endless exposure to frivolous claims and high legal fees is frightening” [Bob Dorigo Jones]
  • “One student was told she couldn’t cast a vote for homecoming queen unless she submitted to the tracking regime.” [CNet via Doctorow, BoingBoing]
  • Couple says law firm sued them following crash of RV they’d sold months earlier [Chamber-backed Southeast Texas Record]
  • L.A. city council moves to ban pet stores [L.A. Times via Amy Alkon]
  • “Willie Gary’s law firm ordered to pay $12.5 m to lender” [Nate Raymond, Reuters] Touring the tasteful promotional materials of longtime Overlawyered favorite Gary [Above the Law]
  • Further debunkings of Lilly Ledbetter narrative [Victoria Toensing, Adler, more, earlier] And fact-checking PolitiFact could turn into a full-time job; Hans Bader is still on the case [CEI]
  • Fifth Circuit panel backs Louisiana monks’ right to produce handcrafted caskets [NOLA.com, Ilya Shapiro/Cato, earlier]

“USDA cites Harvard in deaths of 41 mice” [Boston Globe]

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August 1 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 1, 2012

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