One thing I like about running Overlawyered is that its readers regularly know more than I do. After I posted the other day about how West Hollywood, Calif. Mayor Lindsey Horvath said she was ordering city employees not to grant rally permits to Donald Trump because he’s such a terrible candidate — yes, really — reader Chris Bray pointed out that the mayor’s office in West Hollywood is a largely ceremonial position rotating among town councilors and has no authority to order city employees to do anything. That makes it sound as if the mayor might be a blowhard as well as someone who cannot be trusted near the First Amendment, two qualities she would have in common with Trump himself.
The other day 34-year-old Mayor Lindsey Horvath of West Hollywood, Calif. said Republican presidential contender Donald Trump and his campaign were “not welcome” in her city. She also “instructed City staff that they are able to refuse to issue special events permits to Trump should he attempt to schedule a rally,” reported Gabby Morrongiello in the Washington Examiner. “Horvath has also called on the other 87 mayors in Los Angeles County to follow suit and block the billionaire from campaigning in their cities.”
Those comments might have set her community up for a costly lawsuit, since her position is plainly unconstitutional. Courts in the United States have made it clear that cities are not free to turn down a permit for one candidate that they would have approved for another simply because they disapprove of the first candidate’s viewpoint. Yet when contacted by law professor/blogger and First Amendment specialist Eugene Volokh, Horvath stuck by her position.
However, city attorney Michael Jenkins, evidently better informed, gave a response that directly contradicted the mayor’s when Volokh contacted him for a follow-up: “The City would consider an application from the Trump campaign no differently than from any other campaign.” Notes Volokh: “The city attorney’s position is consistent with First Amendment law; the mayor’s is not.”
There is no indication that Trump has planned any rallies for West Hollywood, notwithstanding a tweet in February by author Bret Easton Ellis that raised some eyebrows about the possibility that the billionaire might have an untapped constituency there.
P.S. In comments, Chris Bray notes that under West Hollywood’s system of governance, which delegates executive power to a city manager while a largely ceremonial position as mayor rotates among city councilpersons, it appears Horvath could not order city staff to adopt any policy on her own.
In a memo sent to the Washington Post and published on his website, presidential candidate Donald Trump has outlined his ideas for compelling Mexico to “pay for the wall” as promised by his campaign. The first item on his list is unilateral executive tightening of banking regulations:
The provision of the Patriot Act, Section 326 – the “know your customer” provision, compelling financial institutions to demand identity documents before opening accounts or conducting financial transactions is a fundamental element of the outline below. That section authorized the executive branch to issue detailed regulations on the subject, found at 31 CFR 130.120-121. It’s an easy decision for Mexico: make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion continues to flow into their country year after year.
The paper goes on to describe in more detail the regulations that would be proposed, then dropped in a deal with the Mexican government in exchange for a payment.
I’ve been writing for quite a while now about how “Know Your Customer” and anti-money-laundering rules, typically adopted on a rationale of combating terrorism and major organized crime, are susceptible to being turned by government to many other objectives not discussed when regulatory authority was originally being sought.
- Soon after reports that World Health Organization wants to keep kids from viewing classic films depicting smoking, purported class action lawsuit seeks damages from Hollywood for not instituting such a ratings policy [Courthouse News]
- UK police arrest another man over dumb political tweet, defend our First Amendment to make sure such things don’t happen here in US [Telegraph] “How about we ‘defend European values’ by not arresting people who say stupid things?” [Brendan O’Neill, Spectator]
- The monocle that blinked: New Yorker magazine now often found on wrong side of free speech issues [Jamie Kirchick/Commentary, earlier]
- What does Donald Trump really think about suing the press? Ann Althouse goes line by line through what he told the Washington Post at an editorial board meeting [earlier here, here, etc.]
- High court should step in against law regulating speech regarding ballot measures by small, low-budget groups [John Kramer, Institute for Justice on Justice v. Hosemann] Paul Sherman of Institute for Justice joins Trevor Burrus and Aaron Ross Powell for a discussion of the First Amendment, political and occupational speech [Libertarianism.org]
- Merrick Garland’s record on First Amendment issues [Ronald Collins] State of play in the Supreme Court on First Amendment cases this term [same; published before 4-4 outcome in Friedrichs]
- Sixth Circuit to IRS: stop stonewalling the political-targeting-of-nonprofits scandal [Jonathan Adler, James Taranto/WSJ “Best of the Web”, Joely Friedman/Capital Research Center (see Table 1), my take on the Lois Lerner scandal two years ago]
- “What’s the most ridiculous thing you could imagine a city doing?” “Dunno…paying people not to shoot each other?” [Washington Post on so-called Richmond plan]
- Never mind, prior art: archery company drops foam-arrow patent case, still pursuing other claims against LARPer [ArsTechnica, earlier]
- In New Jersey, “Possessing Air Pellet Gun During Film Shoot Can Get You Many Years in Prison” [Brian Doherty; earlier on tender mercies of New Jersey gun control in Brian Aitken, Shaneen Allen, and Gordon VanGilder cases]
- Georgia: “Woman Walks Into Ladder, Sues, Wins Huge Jury Verdict” [Bob Dorigo Jones]
- New allegation on 20-year-old Vera Coking story: Trump offered work to lawyer representing her in limousine-lot eminent domain case [Washington Post] Magnifies the power of celebrity: “Campaign Finance Restrictions Help Trump” [John McGinnis, Liberty and Law]
- Never know who’ll benefit: supersedeas appeal bond limits, sought by tort reformers, may now save Gawker from ruin [WLF, earlier] Plus a Florida appellate court ruling on newsworthiness, and other reasons the scurrilous media outlet is hoping for better luck on appeal if it can get past the bond hurdle [Politico New York]
- Governance in Indian country: Native American lawyer Gabe Galanda disbarred by Nooksack tribe while fighting disenrollment of some of its members [Seattle Times, followup (tribal judge rules due process was lacking, but in so doing, as employee serving at tribe’s pleasure, “potentially left herself open to being fired”)]
- Revenge of the broken-winged pterodactyl: Maryland Democrats accuse each other of complicity in gerrymander in fight for Van Hollen’s House seat [me at Free State Notes]
- Oh, DoJ: “enforced donation to ‘public service’ organizations that just happen to support the ruling party’s goals” [Jeb Kinnison citing this post of ours on mortgage settlements]
- “Trump’s long trail of litigation” [Brody Mullins and Jim Oberman, WSJ; our earlier here, here, here, etc.]
- Lansing prosecutor, an “outspoken advocate for ending human trafficking and prostitution,” now facing charges of go ahead and guess [WILX; our Eliot Spitzer coverage]
The Slate Star Codex blogger decided to read, and belatedly review, The Art of the Deal (1988) by real estate developer and now-GOP nomination frontrunner Donald Trump. Trump and his campaign aside, the book affords insights into the legal and regulatory side of the development business. Following a funny description of the role of the real estate developer in coordinating deals, Alexander writes:
…The developer’s other job is dealing with regulations. The way Trump tells it, there are so many regulations on development in New York City in particular and America in general that erecting anything larger than a folding chair requires the full resources of a multibillion dollar company and half the law firms in Manhattan. Once the government grants approval it’s likely to add on new conditions when you’re halfway done building the skyscraper, insist on bizarre provisions that gain it nothing but completely ruin your chance of making a profit, or just stonewall you for the heck of it if you didn’t donate to the right people’s campaigns last year. Reading about the system makes me both grateful and astonished that any structures have ever been erected in the United States at all, and somewhat worried that if anything ever happens to Donald Trump and a few of his close friends, the country will lose the ability to legally construct artificial shelter and we will all have to go back to living in caves.
But if you are waiting for new proposals from Trump about reforming regulation, you might need to go on waiting:
Here is a guy whose job is cutting through bureaucracy, and who is apparently quite good at it. Yet throughout the book – and for that matter, throughout his campaign for the nomination of a party that makes cutting bureaucracy a big part of their platform – he doesn’t devote a lot of energy to expressing discontent with the system. There is no libertarian streak to Trump – in the process of successfully navigating all of these terrible rules, he rarely takes a step back and wonders about a better world where these rules don’t exist. Despite having way more ability to change the system than most people, he seems to regard it as a given, not worth debating. … the rules are there; his job is to make the best deal he can within those rules.
I’ve got a new piece at Cato noting that an important plank of American political consensus over the past century — that it’s wrong to disrupt and shout down your opponents’ speeches and events — seems to be on the verge of collapsing. An obvious parallel, of course, is to the speech-intolerant “shut-’em-down” culture on many American campuses; but the actions of Black Lives Matter supporters in taking over microphones and blockading freeways have also played an important role.
I begin the piece with the story of a speech I attended at a Federalist Society event last Friday at which Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was shouted down by a squad of disrupters sent, incredibly, by the (c)(4) affiliate of a major think tank in Washington, the Center for American Progress:
— Generation Progress (@genprogress) March 11, 2016
(“Today at @SenOrrinHatch’s SCOTUS book event, we said #DoYourJob and vote on on a SCOTUS nominee. They didn’t listen.”)
To which @thomasehopson replied:
— Thomas Hopson (@thomasehopson) March 11, 2016
More thoughts on shoutdowns and organized heckling as a tactic: Ed Krayewski; Eugene Volokh on the legality/illegality of disrupting events and of some responses to disruption. And: while left-on-right disruption appears to have been more common in recent years, note also this coverage of the equally objectionable other way round, from an Austin town hall on ObamaCare. Plus, Marc Thiessen: disrupters go after Trump rallies in well-organized groups. Yet a “responsible leader tries to calm a volatile situation.”
As recently as two weeks ago we covered Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s pattern of suing his critics. But the report by Paul Farhi in yesterday’s Washington Post, recounting Trump’s long courtroom assault on reporter Tim O’Brien, contains a remarkable new passage:
Both courts [in ruling that Trump’s suit should be dismissed] cited a lack of “clear and convincing” evidence to satisfy the basic legal test for libeling someone as well known as Trump: willful disregard for the truth. The appeals court noted O’Brien’s diligent and extensive efforts to research Trump’s wealth.
Trump said in an interview that he knew he couldn’t win the suit but brought it anyway to make a point. “I spent a couple of bucks on legal fees, and they spent a whole lot more. I did it to make his life miserable, which I’m happy about.”
Paul Alan Levy, at Public Citizen, calls Trump’s explanation of his actions and motives “astonishing” and says the front-runner’s “admission of malicious reasons for suing a reporter reminds us why we need anti-SLAPP statutes.” For voters, it might also raise questions of what to expect should a candidate with this instrumental view of legal action gain control of the machinery of law enforcement in the United States.
Bonus: “Litigation and legal threats related to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign” [Ballotpedia catalogue]