The European Union may bring member states before the European Court of Justice for protecting freedom of expression too vigorously, reports Jacob Mchangama. “Even historic defenders of speech like Denmark and the United Kingdom are starting to choose ‘social harmony’ over free expression.” [Foreign Policy]
“Never stand on the edges or close to the hot springs….Don’t test the temperature with your hands, it will burn. The nearest hospital is 62km away.” Assumption of risk, the Iceland way [TortsProf]
Britain has voted Leave in its European Union referendum. The Euro cause, though strong in London and environs, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and university towns, failed to carry substantial cities like Birmingham and Sheffield and was shellacked in the industrial north and across many other parts of England. Remain — a position backed by the large majority of educated commentators, by business and cultural notables, and by the leadership of the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Scottish Nationalist parties — has been reduced to what the funeral industry calls cremains.
The successful vote will begin an undefined dance of negotiation with Brussels, which has a hundred ways of stalling and complicating that process. Following earlier anti-EU votes in member countries, in fact, Brussels simply ignored the voters and came back a while later to ask again for the answer it wanted. Should the British political leadership want the negotiations to lead nowhere, it has many ways to connive at that. However, both Conservative and Labour parties must now confront a crisis of revolt from their members. The issue is particularly acute for the Tories because Prime Minister David Cameron led the Remain cause, and rival Boris Johnson, the former London mayor, made a compelling alternative leadership figure for Leave.
One theme on Twitter last night was curious: a number of commenters chided Wales for voting Leave even though it receives substantial regional subsidies from the European Union. (See here, here, and here.) In short, subsidies don’t always buy love. On balance, though, isn’t it probably a good thing if such programs fail to purchase local political sentiment?
“Should the legal system protect or punish the kind of inflammatory speech and drawings that prompted the assault on the Charlie Hebdo offices?” The U.S. Supreme Court in recent years has interpreted our First Amendment so as to ratify and strengthen protection for such speech; Europe, on the other hand, has moved toward punishing it, both from disapproval in itself and, increasingly, on the rationale that allowing it might lead to violence.
In a new Cato Policy Analysis, “Hate Speech Laws: Ratifying the Assassin’s Veto,” First Amendment litigator and Cato adjunct scholar Robert Corn-Revere defends America’s as the correct approach. Executive summary excerpt:
The United States Supreme Court has generally restricted government limits on speech. Some speech, however, does not receive protection, including expressions closely tied to violence. In the past, “fighting words” were judged unprotected by the First Amendment; the development of Court doctrine has largely eliminated this exception. American jurisprudence is based on the assumption that protections for freedom of expression will not long endure if they can be abandoned when the message is particularly repellant or its target especially sympathetic.
European law also protects freedom of expression, although in a less robust way than does U.S. law. Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights subjects freedom of speech to important limitations understood generally as “hate speech.” In contrast to the United States, officials may apply criminal or civil sanctions to prohibited political advocacy.
The United States faces a choice. Should it defend the right to offend, or opt instead to champion a right not to be offended? We have learned from hard experience in the United States that free expression cannot long survive without protecting outrageous and offensive speech.
- In Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo, Kennedy preserves statistical sampling as a way of proving classwide liability; liberal side would have prevailed even with Scalia on court [Mark Moller/PrawfsBlawg, Daniel Fisher, Paul Karlsgodt]
- Cato’s amicus brief suggests nifty administrative-law fix by which Court could excuse Little Sisters of the Poor without stoking culture war [Ilya Shapiro]
- Oral argument in case on whether RICO racketeering law applies extraterritorially [Daniel Fisher, first and second posts; RJR Nabisco v. European Community]
- Luis v. U.S.: oddly split Court restricts freezing of untainted assets when needed to pay for criminal defense [Jonathan Adler, Scott Greenfield]
- Caetano: Court tells Massachusetts to revisit its opinion that Second Amendment cannot apply to stun guns [Jonathan Adler, Eugene Volokh]
- As predicted, Court won’t take up weak claim by Oklahoma and Nebraska that Colorado’s pot law harms them [Tim Lynch and Adam Bates]
- Amicus wranglers, amicus whisperers; friends of court seen to display flock, herd, pack behavior [Adam Liptak, New York Times]
- Delay FDA menu labeling rules? Tinker? No, repeal [Baylen Linnekin, earlier]
- European trade negotiators would like to keep cheeses and beverages on American shelves from bearing names like Parmesan, Gouda, feta, Champagne, port, and sherry unless made over there. Nein danke, no grazie, non merci [William Watson, Cato] Weird how EU laws prevent spirits producers from being completely honest with consumers [Jacob Grier]
- Regressive-yet-progressive: “Taxing soda fits the narrative in which the obese are oppressed and soda manufacturers are the oppressors.” [Arnold Kling]
- New research (“no consensus among scientists on whether a population-wide reduction of salt was associated with better health outcomes”) could be blow to Gotham’s sodium regulation cause [Dan Goldberg, Politico New York] “Suit Halts NYC’s Misguided Restaurant Salt Warning Labels” [Linnekin]
- Lawyers in hot coffee suits still pushing “unreasonably high holding temperature” theories [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use, earlier]
- Chef turned Amish traditional sausage maker in rural Maine finds that regulation is a grind [Linnekin]
At the Supreme Court’s first oral argument of its new term, “the court’s most liberal justices joined in criticizing the idea the Austrian national railway could be liable simply for allowing its tickets to be sold in the U.S. Carol Sachs v. OBB Personenverkehr revolves around whether the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act protects the state-owned rail company from being sued in U.S. courts over injuries that occur overseas. Judging from the arguments, it can. Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor all expressed doubt that OBB could be liable simply because Sachs bought a Eurailpass through a Massachusetts online ticket agency.” The Ninth Circuit had allowed the case of Sachs v. OBB Personenverkehr to go forward over “strenuous dissents from several of its judges.” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
Do you oppose laws banning hateful expression? You might be one of those American “speech nuts,” akin to “gun nuts,” that so puzzle observers in places like Europe where they do things differently [via Greg Lukianoff, Kelefa Sanneh/New Yorker; pushback from Anthony Fisher/Reason, FIRE first and second posts]
- 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]