Yesterday Yale Law professor emeritus Peter Schuck visited Cato to discuss his new book, and Arnold Kling commented, with me moderating. More about the book and its arguments is here, and a further note from Kling.
* Monday, “Socialism Would Mean Inspectors All Round,” 1929 British Conservative Party poster;
* Tuesday, “Come on, Dad! We’re going to vote Liberal,” 1929 British Liberal Party poster;
* Wednesday, “I Need Smokes,” World War One American poster;
* Thursday, Art Deco Prohibitionist traffic safety poster.
Update: and here’s Friday’s final installment, a contemporary freedom-of-the-press poster from Jordan.
Now online: Wednesday’s Cato Institute event at which Virginia Postrel discussed her new book The Power of Glamour: Persuasion, Longing, and Individual Aspiration with sparkling comments from economist Tyler Cowen and New York Times writer-at-large Sam Tanenhaus. Subtracting considerably from the glamo(u)r factor, I moderated and introduced. More here.
If you missed that fantastic lunch, you’ll really kick yourself if you miss our author lunch next Wednesday with the phenomenal Lenore Skenazy, founder of the Free-Range Kids movement. Click through and register now, while you’re thinking about it.
On Thursday I was a panelist at the Federalist Society National Lawyers’ Conference discussing the rapid rise of litigation funding — specifically, well-capitalized firms that advance money to plaintiffs in commercial high-stakes litigation, often in exchange for a share in the proceeds. (A separate wing of the litigation finance business, which was not the panel’s primary focus, advances smallish sums to individual injury plaintiffs at high interest rates in a sort of analogue of payday lending.)
My opening remarks speculate about the future emergence of divorce trolls — excuse me, “marital rights assertion entities” — set up to buy out an ex-spouse’s stake in ongoing matrimonial strife and play it for maximum extraction value. While no one has yet rolled out that kind of business model, note that outside financiers have indeed begun to fund divorce litigation.
More seriously, I went on to argue that the rise of patent trolls and mass tort operations prefigures problems we are likely to see emerge from litigation finance, from the encouragement given to low-value claims to a settlement process skewed by the interests of the funders rather than the original disputants, and suggest that the age-old rules against champerty, maintenance and barratry might owe something to an appreciation of such dangers. A link to the video is here.
More: Check out Roger Pilon’s post on what else Cato people were up to at the Mayflower last week.
- Now available: 2012-13 edition of the celebrated Cato Supreme Court Review. And full video of Cato’s Constitution Day, at which many of the CSCR authors spoke, is up here;
- Is a hearing necessary if prosecutors freeze assets needed to pay defense lawyers? Court hears argument in forfeiture, money laundering case Kaley v. U.S. [ABA Journal, Jacob Sullum, Scott Greenfield, Harvey Silverglate]
- Court grants certiorari in greenhouse-gas case Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA [Jonathan Adler, Richard Faulk]
- Ilya Somin briefly reviews three new books on constitutional law: John McGinnis and Michael Rappaport on originalism, Randall Kennedy on affirmative action, and Clark Neily on judicial engagement [Volokh]
- General jurisdiction: “Justices Wrestle With Whether California Law Reaches A Mercedes Plant In Argentina” [Daniel Fisher]
- Home Building & Loan Ass’n v. Blaisdell (1934) eviscerated the Contracts Clause, right? Well, it’s complicated [Gerard Magliocca]
- Much-noted interview with Justice Scalia [New York mag] Is there a conservative jurisprudence bubble? [Daniel McCarthy] New opera “Scalia/Ginsburg” [Washington Post]
- “The Fiduciary Foundations of Federal Equal Protection” [Gary Lawson, Guy Seidman, & Robert Natelson, SSRN]
Sociological historian Karl Polanyi, who argued in The Great Transformation that the market economy was a novel and alien mode of human interaction imposed by strong central government and due for obsolescence, has long been a spent force even among most thinkers on the left. So it might have counted as mildly surprising that a writer at the left-leaning think tank Demos picks Polanyi as a champion to send into battle against libertarians (for what it’s worth, Demos now has a whole project, the “Gordon Gamm Initiative,” aimed at finding fault with libertarians; more here from Trevor Burrus). Assigning my Cato colleague Alex Nowrasteh to refute the Polanyi thesis, as Cato’s Libertarianism.org does here, is like sending in a skilled shipbreaker with power tools to remove the stuffing from a scarecrow.
Update: In response to Matt Bruenig, Alex bounces the rubble.
The head of Lavabit — one of two small encrypted email providers that just closed down pre-emptively rather than fight federal government demands — “says he’s been told it’s illegal even to discuss what demand the feds made of him.” [Kashmir Hill/Forbes, more, TechCrunch, Guardian] “Wyden’s constant references to location tracking in this context would be nothing short of bizarre unless he had reason to believe that the governments assurances on this score are misleading, and that there either is or has been some program involving bulk collection of phone records.” [Julian Sanchez, Cato] “The Public-Private Surveillance Partnership” [Bruce Schneier, Bloomberg] “A Guide to What We Now Know About the NSA’s Dragnet Searches of Your Communications” [Brett Max Kaufman, ACLU] The Cato Institute has filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to accept a case challenging the legality of current programs of mass surveillance, in a case filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
More: No right to noisy exit? “Feds Threaten To Arrest Lavabit Founder For Shutting Down His Service” [TechDirt] And now (Sunday): with no charges and no arrest, authorities at Heathrow held and interrogated the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald (who has exposed the NSA program) for nine hours, exactly as long as they could under Britain’s anti-terror law without pressing a charge. They also confiscated his phone, laptop, USB sticks and other electronic gear. [Guardian, Greenwald, NY Times, Lowering the Bar, Peter Maass/NYT Magazine (filmmaker and Greenwald collaborator Laura Poitras regularly detained and interrogated at airports), Joel Mathis/Philly Mag] But see The Spectator (Miranda “carrying encrypted files from Snowden to Greenwald”).