- “Executive Power in the Age of Obama,” podcast interview with Prof. David Bernstein about his new book Lawless, from Encounter Books [Liberty and Law] And so many choices: Bernstein picks his top five acts of Obama administration lawlessness;
- Donations-wise, law firms love Hillary Clinton [Above the Law] as do teachers’ unions [RiShawn Biddle]
- “The Criminalization Of Politics: Is It Happening, And Is It A Problem?” David Lat covers the Federalist Society convention panel [Above the Law]
- Donald Trump’s fondness for legal threats can be traced back to his early association with infamous attorney Roy Cohn [Business Insider video with Michael D’Antonio; June 1989 Spy magazine “Those Who Can, Sue” noting the Trump/Cohn connection; a Steven Brill anecdote about Cohn and Ford Motor that I quoted in my first book] More: @andrewmgrossman on “Ex. 1 to defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion,” Trump on Kasich;
- “Sheldon Silver lied to us” [New York Daily News editorial] More: Lawyers for Silver “don’t plan to call any witnesses. They will instead enter some documents as evidence in their defense, offering a case so minimal that U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni used air quotes when referring to it.” [WSJ]
- Raunchy emails in Kathleen Kane saga: “Pennsylvania’s attorney general seems to have decided that if she has to go, she’s going to take others down with her.” [AP/Yahoo]
- Eternal return? Ex-con reinstalled as mayor of Bridgeport, Ct. played key role in cities-sue-gun-business episode [U.S. News, back then]
Months of agitation promoting a government investigation of supposedly wrongful advocacy on the issue of climate change have begun to pay off. As Holman Jenkins [paywall] notes, purportedly levelheaded Democrats and environmentalists are now jumping on the bandwagon for a probe of possible unlawful speech or non-speech by energy companies and advocacy groups they’ve backed. Perhaps the most remarkable name on that list is Hillary Clinton, who said the other day in New Hampshire, referring to Exxon, “There’s a lot of evidence that they misled people.” That’s right: Hillary Clinton, of all people, now wants to make it unlawful for those who engage in public controversy to mislead people.
The first high-profile law enforcer to bite, it seems, will be Eric Schneiderman, whose doings I’ve examined at length lately. “The New York attorney general has launched an investigation into Exxon Mobil to determine whether the country’s largest oil and gas company lied to investors about how global warming could hurt its balance sheets and also hid the risks posed by climate change from the public,” reports U.S. News. Show me the denier, as someone almost said, and I will find you the crime: “The Martin Act is a nearly empty vessel into which the AG can pour virtually any content that he wants,” as Reuters points out. More on the Martin Act here and here.
At Forbes, Daniel Fisher notes the possible origins of the legal action in an environmentalist-litigator confab in 2012 (“Climate Accountability Initiative”) in which participants speculated that getting access to the internal files of energy companies and advocacy groups could be a way to blow up the climate controversy politically. Fisher also notes that Justice Stephen Breyer, in the Nike v. Kasky case dismissed 12 years ago on other grounds, warned that it will tend to chill advocacy both truthful and otherwise by businesses if opponents can seize on disagreements on contentious public issues and run to court with complaints of consumer (or presumably securities) fraud.
Perhaps in this case chilling advocacy is the whole point. And very much related: my colleague Roger Pilon’s post last week, “Whatever Happened to the Left’s Love of Free Speech?“; Robert Samuelson (“The advocates of a probe into Exxon Mobil are essentially proposing that the company be punished for expressing its opinions.”)
Remarks by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have brought an old topic of mine — gunmaker liability, and the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act — back into the news [Brian Doherty, Reason] I last wrote about it in this piece for Power Line Blog two years ago, and the attempt to use coordinated litigation to take down the gun industry, thus achieving gun control by other means, was the subject of a chapter in my 2004 book The Rule of Lawyers.
“Sen. Sanders goes one step further. He would require that nominees publicly commit to case outcomes…. Although under President Sanders’ proposal judicial impartiality in fact and in appearance will suffer, there is a bright side. If President Sanders filled a majority of seats on the Court with pre-committed Justices, lawyers before the Court could significantly reduce the time and effort expended on the argument sections of their briefs.” [Raymond McKoski, Legal Ethics Forum]
Note also that Sanders managed to find a position on Citizens United worse than Hillary Clinton’s “Banning a critical movie about me should’ve been OK.”
“I’m going to make sure that some employers go to jail for wage theft and all the other abuses that they engage in,” said unpaid-intern-using presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton at a Labor Day rally in Illinois. [Tom S. Elliott, National Review] The elastic epithet “wage theft” has been used to describe employer practices ranging from permitting employees to send work-related email after hours to failing to anticipate claims that employees who applied for and happily worked at fixed-salary jobs should instead have been classified as hourly and paid overtime.
- Really, I never want to hear one word ever again about Gov. Andrew Cuomo being “at least good on economic issues” [Peter Suderman and Nick Gillespie, Reason (New York will mandate $15/hour for most fast-food workers, which in many upstate cities could amount to 75 percent of average wage); Heather Briccetti/New York Post (activists bused from one hearing to next to jeer opponents); Nicole Gelinas/City Journal (Cuomo picks online guy to represent business on brick-and-mortar-endangering wage board), Joanna Fantozzi/The Daily Meal (possible legal challenge); Coyote on Card and Krueger study]
- Labor markets don’t behave the way sentimental reformers wish they behaved, part 53,791 [Seattle minimum wage hike: Mark Perry (largest half-year decline in foodservice jobs in region since Great Recession; but see, Brian Doherty on problems with that number series) and Rick Moran (“Employees are begging their bosses to cut their hours so they can keep their food stamps, housing assistance, and other welfare benefits.”); David Brooks via Coyote]
- Employers scramble to monitor, control time worked in response to Obama overtime decree [WSJ] “No one wants to go back to filling out time sheets…. managers fear (rightly) that I will have to set arbitrary maximum numbers of work hours for them.” [Coyote] Business resistance aims for the moment at (deliberately abbreviated) public comment period [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner] “Can Obama Really Raise Wages for Millions of People So Easily? Quick answer: no” [David Henderson; WSJ/@scottlincicome on seasonal pool-supply company]
- Hillary Clinton and the Market Basket Stores myth [James Taranto]
- Labor Department proposes tightening regulation of retirement financial advisers [Kenneth Bentsen, The Hill]
- Proposed: “well-orchestrated” state ballot initiatives aimed at overturning employment at will [Rand Wilson, Workplace Fairness] My view: “Everybody wins with at-will employment” [Ethan Blevins, Pacific Legal amicus briefs in Supreme Court of Washington, followup on oral argument, and thanks to PLF for citing my work in its amicus brief in Rose v. Anderson Hay and Grain; much more on employment at will in my book The Excuse Factory, also some here]
- The SEIU’s home caregiver membership motel: you can check in, but just try checking out [Watchdog Minnesota Bureau]
- House Ways & Means — yep, Charlie Rangel’s own — passes bill slamming taxpayers for innocent errors [James Peaslee, WSJ, via Alkon]
- Must protect the children! “Parents banned from British school sports event” [Common Room] After-school pickup procedures can get a little crazy too [Free-Range Kids, Florida]
- Once again, America’s Most Irresponsible Public Figure® (that’d be RFK Jr.) sounds off on an environmental dispute to which he turns out to have personal financial ties [Greenwire via Eco-Pragmatism]
- Allegations in ugly Florida law firm breakup include misallocation of Hillary Clinton campaign money [DBR]
- When in court, try to avoid following the example of “Girls Gone Wild” impresario Joe Francis [Lowering the Bar and more, earlier]
- “Judge Allowed to Sue N.Y. Daily News, But Not a Lawyer Thought to Be a Source” [ABA Journal, NYLJ]
- New Hampshire judge rules for divorced father who disapproves of homeschooling [Volokh]
- ABA Journal is taking nominations for its annual best-of “Blawg 100” list [hint, nudge]
Daniel Libit at Politico (Dec. 17) quotes me in a new piece on Judicial Watch, the more-or-less-conservative activist group that brought disrepute on itself in the Clinton years by advancing litigation (often of highly dubious merit) as a scorched-earth method of politics-by-other-means. Since the departure of eccentric founder Larry Klayman the group has been edging back toward respectability, but the return of Hillary Clinton to the Executive Branch seems to have rekindled a “Pavlovian” impulse to sue first and think later.
The ten big donors who bootlessly pledged up to $12 million include some familiar names, such as John Eddie Williams and Peter Angelos, as well as a new one, Calvin C. Fayard, Jr., of the firm Fayard & Honeycutt, A.P.C., who boasts connections with former Louisiana AG Charles Foti (Folo, Mar. 20; “Michigan Missives”, The Caucus (NY Times), Mar. 19).
- Speaking of prostitutes and politicians, Deborah Jeane Palfrey has come to recognize that Montgomery Blair Sibley (Oct. 29; May 4; etc.) may not be the best lawyer for her. [WTOP via BLT]
- Update: Nearly two years later, trial court gets around to upholding $2 million verdict in lawn-mower death we covered Jun. 16 and Aug. 18, 2006. [Roanoke Times (quoting me); opinion at On Point]
- In other lawn mower news, check out Jim Beck’s perceptive comment on a Third Circuit lawn-mower liability decision.
- Update: Willie Gary wins his child-support dispute. [Gary v. Gowins (Ga.); Atl. Journal-Const.; via ABA Journal; earlier: Nov. 2]
- Tobacco-lawyer Mike Ciresi drops out of Minnesota senate race. [WCCO]
- Belfast court quashes libel ruling against restaurant critic. [AFP/Breitbart]
- Trial-lawyer-blogger happy: jury returned $1.25 million med-mal verdict for death of totally disabled person suffering from end-stage renal disease, pulmonary hypertension, oxygen dependent lung disease, and obesity, after rejecting businessperson from jury “for cause” because he was head of local Chamber of Commerce. [Day]
- Car-keying anti-military attorney Jay Grodner faced the law in January; here’s the transcript. [Blackfive]
- Anonymous blog post not reliable evidence of factual allegations. [In re Pfizer, Inc. Sec. Litig., 2008 WL 540120 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2008) via Roberts, who also reports on fee reduction in same post]
- Clinton’s nutty mortgage plan. [B&MI (quoting me)]
- A supposed DC cabbie’s take on DC v. Heller. [DC Cabbie blog]