- Arkansas passes first-in-nation law to protect photographers’ rights, including right to film public employees/officials [Dan Greenberg, The Arkansas Project] “Colorado, Texas and California Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Protect Rights of Citizens to Record Cops” [Carlos Miller, Photography Is Not A Crime] On the other hand: “Texas Bill Would Make It Illegal For You To Film A Cop Beating You” [Lowering the Bar, more (“if you tell me I can’t film you in public, no matter what, filming you in public is going to move way up my priority list”)]
- “‘Deactivated’ Facebook Account Is Discoverable In Litigation” [Eric Goldman]
- Public records request for Oakland dataset makes good introduction to privacy issues in automatic license plate recognition [Cyrus Farivar, ArsTechnica] “Los Angeles Cops Argue All Cars in LA Are Under Investigation” [Jennifer Lynch, EFF]
- “Texas says it will stop collecting fingerprints of driver’s license applicants” [Dave Lieber, Dallas Morning News, earlier]
- “An elite that has lost the impulse to police itself” [Conor Friedersdorf; a contrary view, Stewart Baker podcast with Rebecca Richards, NSA director of privacy and civil liberties]
- “Stingrays and Police Secrecy” [Adam Bates, earlier]
- Taxopticon: “Newport News to begin scanning license plates to find delinquent taxpayers” [Theresa Clift, Daily Press (Virginia) via Amy Alkon]
Following the furor over RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) legislation in Indiana and Arkansas this week, I’ve got a new piece in today’s New York Daily News on the emergence of American business as the most influential ally of gay rights. Links to follow up some of the quoted sources: Reuters on Walmart, Tony Perkins/FRC on pieces of silver, Dave Weigel on how public opinion in polls tends to side with the small business owners. I wrote last year on the Arizona mini-RFRA bill vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer.
On the social media pile-on against a small-town Indiana pizzeria, see also the thought-provoking column by Conor Friedersdorf (more, Matt Welch). Also recommended on the general controversy: Roger Pilon, Mike Munger/Bleeding Heart Libertarians, and David Henderson on freedom of association, David Brooks on getting along, and Peter Steinfels on liberal pluralism and religious freedom.
Relatedly, Cato has now posted a podcast with my critical views (earlier) of the “Utah compromise” adding sexual orientation as a protected class while also giving employees new rights to sue employers over curbs on discussion of religion and morality in the workplace (h/t: interviewer Caleb Brown). For a view of that compromise more favorable than mine, see this Brookings panel.
Trial lawyer and inveterate Litigation Lobby booster Bruce Braley lost his Iowa senate bid (“He comes across as arrogant, and I think it’s because he is,” said an unnamed Democratic official.) Sen. Mark Pryor, chief Senate handler of the awful CPSIA law, lost big.
Massachusetts voters again rejected Martha Coakley, whose prosecutorial decisions we have found so hard to square with the interests of justice. The Wisconsin Blue Fist school of thought, which sees organized government employees as the natural and truly legitimate governing class, met with a rebuff from voters not only in Wisconsin itself but in neighboring Illinois (where Gov. Quinn, of Harris v. Quinn fame, went down to defeat) and elsewhere. Colorado voters rejected GMO labeling, while a similar Oregon bill was trailing narrowly this morning but not with enough votes to call.
California voters rejected Prop 46, to raise MICRA medical liability limits, require database use and impose drug testing of doctors, by a 67-33 margin, and also rejected Prop 45, intensifying insurance regulation, by a 60-40 margin (earlier).
I’ve written a lot at my Free State Notes blog about the governor’s race in my own state of Maryland, and unlike most others was not surprised at Larry Hogan’s stunning upset victory. The politics category there includes my letter to Washington Post-reading independents and moderates about why they should feel comfortable electing Hogan as a balance to the state’s heavily Democratic legislature, as well as my parody song about what I thought a revealing gaffe by Hogan’s opponent, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown.
Readers who followed Overlawyered in 2009-10 will recall that the closest this site has ever come to a crusade was in covering the truly horrible Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, enacted after a media-fed tainted-toy panic, a law that needlessly drove out of business many small retailers and manufacturers of children’s goods posing no hazard whatsoever to consumers. Some will further recall that the chief Senate handler of the legislation was Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas), who cut a poor figure throughout as both ill-informed and dismissive about the side effects his own legislation was having.
Now Sen. Pryor is locked in a tight race for re-election with challenger Rep. Tom Cotton, and a group called the Arkansas Project has been reminding readers of Pryor’s record on CPSIA, digging up many new details in an August series written by Washington, D.C.-area policy analyst Marc Kilmer (who generously credits Overlawyered coverage as a source throughout). Most of the series can be found at this tag or via search. Here is a guide to individual installments in the series, supplemented by links to further coverage from our archives:
- Introduction, and some comments about dangerous toys (our overall coverage of CPSIA);
- Sen. Pryor’s role in the law, and its unreasonable testing burdens (our coverage of CPSIA and Congress, and the law’s testing burdens);
- The law’s awful effect on resale and consignment, and the closure of A Kidd’s Place in Conway, Ark (our coverage on resale);
- Why big toymakers (unlike small) are doing fine under the law, and some dubious claims of safety success (our coverage on toys);
- CPSIA’s role in saving kids from old books (our coverage of its effects on books and libraries);
- “Sen. Pryor Stops Kids from Eating All-Terrain Vehicles” (our coverage on minibikes and other motorized vehicles)
- How the law jumped the gun on phthalates, the bendy-plastic ingredient (our coverage of the law’s phthalate ban);
- Sen. Pryor’s non-response to the series.
Arkansas voters — and everyone who wants to learn how a Congress can fail spectacularly at its legislative responsibilities — should read this series in full.
- As Brooklyn changes, so do its juries: “more sophisticated people… they don’t believe [plaintiffs] should be awarded millions of dollars for nothing.” [NY Post quoting plaintiff’s lawyer Charen Kim]
- Richard Epstein: Massachusetts buffer zone statute “should have been upheld, not struck down” [Hoover Institution, earlier on McCullen v. Coakley, my related comment]
- “Runners” as in client-chasing for injury work: “Arkansas AG Files Suit Against Chiropractic ‘Runners'” [AP]
- Fox, henhouse: 2012 law says local transit agencies must sit on boards helping set their own funding [Randal O’Toole, Cato]
- No-good, terrible, really bad idea: occupational licensure for software professionals [Ira Stoll]
- More proliferation of legally required video surveillance [Volokh; guns, cellphone sales]
- How do you expect the IRS to back up headquarters emails when we throttle its IT budget down to a mere $2.4 billion? [Chris Edwards, Cato]
- Anonymous tip as basis for search? Thomas, Scalia divide in 5-4 SCOTUS decision [Tim Lynch/Cato; Popehat and Scott Greenfield vs. Orin Kerr]
- Undercover police target Uber, Lyft drivers to “send a message” [Alice Truong, Fast Company; related on New York AG Eric Schneiderman; yet more from NY state senator Liz Krueger (claims AirBnB could also lead to gambling and drugs)]
- Judge Rakoff on plea deals: “hundreds… or even tens of thousands of innocent people who are in prison, right now” [Tim Lynch, Cato]
- “Everybody’s trafficked by something,” claims one Phoenix police lieutenant [Al-Jazeera via Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason] “Lies, damned lies, and sex work statistics” [Maggie McNeill]
- Small town police get feds’ surplus armored military vehicles. What could go wrong? [Radley Balko, with reader comments on challenges of supplies and maintenance]
- Good: “Obama to consider more clemency requests from nonviolent drug offenders” [CBS, Tim Lynch, my take in December]
- Arkansas: “Mom Arrested for Breastfeeding After Drinking Alcohol in a Restaurant” [Free-Range Kids]
- Academics have underestimated sensitivity of medical system to liability pressures [Michael Frakes, SSRN via TortsProf]
- “Nobody has gone out and bought a new home” — Mark Lanier talks down his verdict knocking $9 billion out of Takeda and Lilly after two hours of deliberation by a Lafayette, La. jury [Reuters] Japanese drugmaker says it had won three previous trials [ABA Journal]
- Nursing home in living-up-to-its-name town of West Babylon sued over hiring male strippers to entertain residents [NYP, more (wife of complainant attended display), ABA Journal]
- “Reining in FDA regulation of mobile health apps” [Nita Farahany, Volokh/WaPo]
- Another setback for plaintiffs as Arkansas tosses $1.2 billion Risperdal marketing case against Johnson & Johnson [AP/Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Eric Alexander/Drug and Device Law, earlier here and here]
- “Spacecraft collision injuring occupant”: docs scratch their heads at new revamp to billing codes [Steven Syre, Boston Globe via Future of Capitalism]
- FDA preclearance, drug litigation: “Most [patients] never know they were harmed, because we never know what we might have had.” [John Stossel]
- “Who’s Afraid of Political Speech?” (spoiler: incumbents) [Roger Pilon, Cato] “None of this was perceived as a major problem so long as the 501(c)(4) category was dominated by the political left” [Brad Smith, WSJ]
- Texas trial lawyers not all of one mind over extent of political involvements [Texas Tribune, Southeast Texas Record]
- Sen. Mark Pryor, a key architect of the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad CPSIA law, faces tough re-election race in Arkansas [Politico]
- RNC asked to take stand for Americans overseas hurt by FATCA tax law [McClatchy]
- Richard Epstein recalls Chris Christie’s unlovely tactics as a prosecutor [Ira Stoll, Future of Capitalism]
- That time Texas politico Wendy Davis sued the Fort Worth paper over its coverage of her campaign [Andrew Stiles, NRO]
- “Low political knowledge levels mainly due to lack of demand for info, not lack of supply” [Ilya Somin, Jack Shafer]
- SEC backs off plan to expose companies to harassment over outlays to politically oriented nonprofits, and NYT (thinking only of shareholders’ welfare of course) is sad about that [Marc Hodak, David Silvers/CEI, NYT] Sen. Warren seems to enjoy new capacity to use position, Durbin-like, to punish political foes [David Henderson]
- Arkansas: “‘Corruption of Blood’ Amendment Withdrawn After House Supporter Is Reminded What Century It Is” [Above the Law]
- George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case heads for trial [TalkLeft, Doug Mataconis, and Richard Hornsby via Megan McArdle on evidentiary standards, earlier]
- Is New Hampshire citizens’ group harassing town parking meter enforcers, or monitoring their work? [Union Leader, ABA Journal, Reason]
- New York politicos quarrel over Hank Greenberg suit, overbroad Martin Act is to blame [Bainbridge]
- Enforcement grabs higher-ups in Ralph Lauren Argentine customs bribery case [FCPA Professor, earlier]
- Who stole the tarts? “Mom has son arrested for stealing Pop-Tarts” [Lowering the Bar; Charlotte, N.C.] Tip from Georgia cops: avoid situations where you might have to cling to hood of moving car [same]
- “Omaha officers told: Don’t interfere with citizens’ right to record police activity” [Omaha World-Herald via @radleybalko (“Good work, Omaha.”)]
The decision in Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles was 9-0, Justice Breyer writing for the Court, and signals’ Justices’ impatience with lawyerly gamesmanship intended to evade CAFA (the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005). I’ve got a short commentary at Cato, which filed an amicus brief on the side that prevailed [decision in PDF, background at SCOTUSBlog, earlier here etc., my new Cato post; more on stage hooks](& SCOTUSBlog, Ted Frank/PoL (“Miller County [Arkansas] trial lawyers had collected hundreds of millions of dollars of legal fees from forum-shopped class-action settlements; the class members whom they purportedly represented likely didn’t even get 10% as much.”))
More: Andrew Trask (“The Supreme Court is envisioning the class action as a procedural aggregation device, rather than a corporate deterrent or a trust-like entity. This is good news for defendants.”); Alison Frankel, Reuters. And I’m quoted on the case in Alex Daniels’ account in the March 20 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (sub-only).