- Yikes: Nevada supreme court is nearly broke because it relies on traffic ticket revenue and cops are writing fewer [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
- Forced marriage in immigrant communities happening not just in places like English Midlands, but in U.S. as well; those who assist resistant teenage girls risk “aiding delinquent minor” charges [Washington Post]
- “Posner informs pro se litigant that the queen of England did not absolve him of need to pay taxes” [ABA Journal]
- Panel at Federalist Society on president’s power not to enforce the law [Randy Barnett, background on panel]
- Inside grand jury’s investigation of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane [Philadelphia Inquirer] “Referral fees paid to wife of former Pa. Supreme Court justice questioned” [Harrisburg Patriot-News]
- Have you or a loved one been attacked by a Zebra? [Arkansas Matters] “Louisiana Man on Trial for Murder Says He Thought the Victim Was an Alligator” [People]
- Sneaky Oregon law will divert unclaimed class action dollars to legal aid and not incidentally boost legal fees [Sen. Betsy Johnson, East Oregonian]
My Cato colleague Ilya Shapiro writes that whatever view one may take of the underlying issues of immigration policy, a Texas federal court was right to find that President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents executive action (DAPA) exceeded his statutory powers. More: Josh Blackman, Memeorandum.
- In November I wrote in Jurist on a Third Circuit panel’s refusal to order that sports great Jim Thorpe be disinterred and reburied under provisions of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA); in response, Elizabeth Varner, Diane Penneys Edelman and Leila Amineddoleh of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation argue that the panel could have based its result on specific language in the statute rather than via the roundabout path it did take [Jurist]
- Electing judges, a relic of Jacksonianism, still generating problems today [John Steele Gordon, Commentary]
- “Obama issues ‘executive orders by another name'” [USA Today on Presidential “memoranda”; earlier on executive orders]
- “Legislators Say E-Cigarette Companies Are Bound by an Agreement Reached Before They Existed” [Jacob Sullum]
- Woman upset at exclusion of service kangaroo but agrees to leave McDonald’s [AP, Wisconsin News, earlier (although local law may vary, federal government these days takes view that aside from qualified dogs and some miniature horses, ADA does not require businesses to accept customers’ service animals)]
- Join the crowd: “Various plaintiffs v. various defendants,” an actual case caption [Lowering the Bar]
- “..the very kind of odious racialization of politics that Congress wrote the Voting Rights Act to forbid” [Ilya Shapiro]
- What’s wrong with the NLRB attack on McDonald’s franchising, cont’d [On Labor, earlier here, here, etc.]
- Postal union calls in American Federation of Teachers, other public employee unions to kill Staples postal partnership plan [Huffington Post]
- U.S. Department of Labor uses coercive hot-goods orders to arm-twist blueberry farmers, judges say no [Jared Meyer, Econ21 and Salem Statesman-Journal]
- “Watch Closely Obama’s Treatment of Unions” [Diana Furchtgott-Roth] “Obama ‘Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces’ Executive Order Will Punish Firms in Pro-Worker States” [Hans Bader, CEI]
- Judge: massive document request signals NLRB’s emergence as litigation arm, and co-organizer, of unions [Sean Higgins, Examiner] Wobblies on top: NLRB sides with IWW workers over poster claiming eatery’s food was unsafe [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, earlier]
- Academic debate on union issues already wildly lopsided, union-backed labor history curriculum unlikely to help [Alex Bolt, Workplace Choice]
- Turning unionism into a protected-class category in parallel with discrimination law is one of the worst ideas ever [Jon Hyman, earlier here, etc.]
- After Harris v. Quinn, states and unions begin dropping mandatory dues collection for home health carers [Michigan Capitol Confidential, Fox; my two cents at Free State Notes on Maryland’s heel-dragging]
- Macy’s in suburban Boston is opening target for NLRB bid to install gerrymandered “micro-unions” [The Hill, earlier here, etc.]
- Federal contractors to fork over pay demographics, the better to be sued [Department of Labor]
- Speaking of the barrage of executive orders coming out of the White House, it’s beyond silly to pretend that all the costly new employment mandates will promote “efficiency and cost savings” [Coyote]
- “Gay Christian conservative employee sues gay bar for sexual, religious harassment” [Volokh]
- “House Hearing Highlights Problems in the Fair Labor Standards Act” [Alex Bolt]
- “Forcing Kids to Do Chores Not a Federal Crime” [Courthouse News, Volokh]
Writing checks for overtime (or sending managers home before they reach the point of being entitled to it) is only the more visible cost to business of the Obama administration’s scheme to reclassify layers of junior management as hourly employees. Small businesses told the Wall Street Journal this spring (summarized) of the forbidding morale cost of discouraging ambitious employees from upwardly mobile, which usually means salary-oriented, thinking:
Emo Pentermann, owner of Bell ATM Service Inc., a distribution and repair shop for ATMs and other money machines in Centennial, Colo. …worries that making more people eligible for overtime pay could remove the inherent incentive for lower-level managers to hustle to earn a promotion.
“You work hard, develop the maturity for a salaried position, and then move up,” he says. “It takes away that whole level of maturity and freedom of choosing to get the job done in the time allotted. So for all practical purposes, they just might as well be on a time card.”
Jeffrey Harris has 70 salaried employees at his Chicago-based Inte Q, a marketing firm that specializes in customer-loyalty programs for brands such as Reebok and Office Depot. … He has tried to create a workplace environment that de-emphasizes keeping up with a time clock. For instance, employees can take time off work to attend a child’s performance in school….
…when he heard about the proposal, he said he immediately thought it would affect the type of work culture that has yielded results for him in both profits and employee retention. Only 2% of workers have voluntarily chosen to leave the company in the past three years, he says.
P.S. Proposed regulations anticipated by November 2014, final regulations “unlikely to arrive until Spring 2015″ [Wage and Hour Insights]
To the now-famous Obama “pen and phone” formula for circumventing Congress to change the law through executive fiat, columnist Debra Saunders suggests adding “…and teleprompter,” since blaming the opposition seems to be an integral part of the tactic. The President’s flippant, confrontational “so sue me” remark illustrates the problem: even when the executive decrees are not at war with the rule of law, as they often are, they often breach the spirit of comity between the branches.
As Saunders notes in quoting me, there are areas where I find some of the administration’s underlying policy objectives to be sympathetic or understandable — for example, in the effort to adjust banking regulation to accommodate legal marijuana commerce in Washington and Colorado. But “understandably motivated” does not equal “lawful.” On top of all that, many of the executive initiatives, typified by those on labor issues, are truly horrible as policy.
None of which is to endorse proposals to head off the problem by having Congress sue the President. Those will often collide with the Framers’ contemplated role of the courts as adjudicating true cases or controversies arising between parties, not umpiring every power dispute between the other two branches (plus: follow-up Saunders blog post).
Obama urged to raise taxes unilaterally on disfavored groups by regulation if Congress won’t act:
Out of deference to Congress, the Treasury Department has traditionally avoided making policy in areas where the legislative branch may act. “But when the legislative process is as broken as it has become today,” said Daniel N. Shaviro, a law professor at New York University, “it’s simply inevitable that administrations will care less about such comity, and be more willing to advance their policy views in controversial areas through the unilateral exercise of regulatory authority.”
All sitting Presidents try to press the power of their office into doubtful areas. President Barack Obama has been particularly aggressive about doing so, according to the panelists at a May 21 discussion held at the Cato Institute. Georgetown law professor and Cato fellow Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz noted that the Constitution’s Take Care Clause directs the President to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, and descends directly from centuries of struggle against the “dispensing power” claimed by pre-modern English kings — that is, the power to dispense with enacted legislation entirely where the royal will is better served that way, a claim of power that goes beyond simple prosecutorial discretion or the pardon power.
Rosenkranz pointed to a number of Obama executive actions that are hard to reconcile with the Take Care clause. The text of the Affordable Care Act, for example, states that the employer mandate prescribed by the law was to begin Jan. 1, 2014. “You don’t need a lawyer to interpret this, you need a calendar.” Yet President Obama elected unilaterally to delay the mandate and substitute a later effective date of his own choice. Likewise, the President’s suspension of some immigration regulations overrode the clear letter of U.S. law, aside from any pluses or minuses it may have had as a policy matter.
“President Obama is being the kind of President Nixon wanted to be,” said panelist Jonathan Turley, a well-known legal commentator and law professor at George Washington University: “Many Democrats will rue the day they stood by while the President asserted these kinds of powers.” Panelist Andrew Grossman of Cato said future presidents are likely to follow Obama’s lead and assert their own right to suspend the operation of other laws.
Bonus: At a separate event, Cato welcomed George Mason U. law professor Frank Buckley to talk about his book The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America. I offer a question at the beginning of the comment period.
- Los Angeles officials push SEIU-backed scheme to fasten unions on nonunion workforce at LAX airport [Brian Sumers, Contra Costa Times]
- Want to empower cities? Reform binding labor arbitration [Stephen Eide, Urbanophile]
- “Explainer: What Does President Obama’s Equal Pay Day Executive Order Change?” [Rachel Homer, On Labor]
- One lawyer’s advice: “when an employee complains about discrimination, or otherwise engages in protected conduct, you must treat that employee with kid gloves” [Jon Hyman on Sixth Circuit retaliation case]
- Detroit juggles pension numbers to fix deficit, papers over the real problem [Dan Kadlec, Time; Shikha Dalmia, Washington Examiner]
- No room left to cut budget, part 245,871: federal grants promote labor unions [Examiner]
- More on EEOC’s campaign to limit employment criminal background checks [Coyote, Daniel Schwartz]