- Malheur standoff: here come the self-styled “citizens’ grand jury” hobbyists [Oregonian, my two cents on this branch of folk law, earlier]
- Your egg-flipping, coffee-guzzling grandma was right all along about nutrition, federal government now seems gradually to be conceding [Washington Post]
- “Obama’s State of the Union pledge to push for bipartisan redistricting reform was a late add” [L.A. Times, Politico, American Prospect, Todd Eberly on Twitter, some earlier takes here and here]
- More Charlie Hebdo retrospectives after a year [Anthony Fisher, Reason] Another bad year for blasphemers [Sarah McLaughlin, more] The magazine’s false friends [Andrew Stuttaford; hadn’t realized that departing NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos, who so curiously compared the magazine’s contents to “hate speech unprotected by the Constitution,” has lately held “the James Madison Visiting Professorship on First Amendment Issues” at the Columbia School of Journalism]
- “The Ten Most Significant Class Action Cases of 2015” [Andrew Trask]
- More from Cato on Obama’s “mishmash” of executive orders on guns [Adam Bates, Tim Lynch, Emily Ekins]
- The “worst and most counter-productive legal complaint that’s been filed in a long, long time” [Barry Rascovar, Maryland Reporter on move by ACLU of Maryland/NAACP Legal Defense Fund to challenge as racially discriminatory the decision to cancel construction of a new Baltimore subway line]
- “Outdoor guides to Obama: Take a hike” [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner; Labor Department imposes higher federal-contractor minimum wage on outfitters operating in national parks, though they do not fit conventional definition of contractors]
- Los Angeles: “Gov’t Emails Cast Doubt On Berkeley Minimum Wage Study” [Connor Wolf, Daily Caller]
- Video: David Boaz (Cato) debates Chai Feldblum (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) on identity in the workplace [Atlantic “Ideas”]
- Oyster visas: when even Sen. Barbara Mikulski says labor regulations go too far, maybe they go too far [Rachel Weiner, Washington Post]
- Lawsuit: California shouldn’t be letting private employees work seven days in a row whether they want to or not [Trevor Burrus, Cato; Mendoza v. Nordstrom brief, Supreme Court of California]
- One hopes U.S. Senate will think carefully before ratifying international labor conventions [Richard Trumka and Craig Becker, Pacific Standard]
- “We’re going to overturn every rock in their lives to find out about their lifestyles”: union chief vows to go after lawmakers seeking to break county liquor monopoly in Montgomery County, Maryland [Bethesda Magazine]
- “Justice Department suspends abusive asset forfeiture program – for now” [Ilya Somin]
- Tulsa sheriff steers seizures to judge it once employed, invokes unclaimed property law which dodges burden of proof [The Frontier]
- Op-ed claims that if Maryland cops grab your stuff you must be a “drug dealer,” trial or no [Joseph Cassilly, Baltimore Sun]
- Quest for revenue-self-sufficient law enforcement can end in “independent, self-funding armed gangs” [Noah Smith, Bloomberg View]
- “Get rid of policing for profit in Michigan” [Angela Erickson, Detroit News]
- Congress has twice tried to make it easier for prevailing claimants to recover attorneys’ fees when recovering seized property, but the government finds ways to slip around [Scott Greenfield]
- Value of assets seized by law enforcement in U.S. in 2014 exceeds value taken by burglars [Armstrong Economics]
My local paper, the Frederick News-Post, ran an editorial on Monday that 1) saw nothing especially wrong in the Environmental Protection Agency’s illegally expending tax money to stir up pressure on Congress to support a wider interpretation of EPA power; 2) claimed that the fuss over tax-paid lobbying was for lack of any substantive critique of EPA’s “WOTUS” (Waters of the United States) rule, although a majority of states have challenged that rule, the farm and rural landowner communities have been up in arms against it all year, and a federal appeals court has agreed to stay it.
So I wrote this letter in response, which ran today. There wasn’t space for me to dispute the FNP’s peculiar notion that to oppose the water rule as exceeding the EPA’s statutory authority is to encourage the “anti-science, climate change denial crowd,” which tends to reinforce my sense that “anti-science” and “climate denial” are turning into all-purpose epithets increasingly unhooked from any particular relationship to science or climate. (cross-posted at Free State Notes)
I’ve got a letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post. An excerpt:
The Dec. 11 Metro article “Baltimore eviction rate among highest in nation” reported on advocates’ efforts to change eviction procedures to allow Baltimore tenants to stay longer in rental housing even when they fail to pay their rent. One effect, of course, would be to make it even less attractive to offer and maintain rental properties in the hard-hit city.
Before going farther down such a road, it would help to review failures of existing Maryland housing policies….
And then I talk about Maryland lawmakers’ having enacted various legal changes to slow down foreclosures, and the unpleasant aftermath, a story told here. Why would a state want to go through a very similar wasteful, blight-encouraging exercise for rental property? (cross-posted from Free State Notes)
Unintended consequences: “It was the second consecutive month that Maryland led the nation in [the rate of] foreclosure filings, RealtyTrac said.” While filings nationwide were down 7 percent from a year earlier, those in Maryland were up 13 percent. [Baltimore Business Journal] We’ve noted before that although liberal legislators in Annapolis imagined they were doing poorer homeowners a favor by making the state’s foreclosure process so slow, the results have included unusual delays in bounce-back from housing recessions and persistent neighborhood blight. That’s to say nothing of the entrenchment of non-paying occupants in luxury homes for years at a stretch. To quote another commentator’s words in our March item:
“Living rent-free in a $600,000 house is a ‘plight’ only in the sense that at some point you may have to stop.” [Arnold Kling on the Washington Post’s naive Prince George’s County foreclosure series; coverage of Maryland’s unusually lender-hostile foreclosure law at Overlawyered here, here, here, here, here, and here]
[cross-posted from Free State Notes]
Yesterday the Supreme Court (ruling only on a narrow procedural issue, not the merits) gave the go-ahead to a suit challenging Maryland’s outlandish Congressional districting map, and three other pending merits cases indicate the Court’s renewed interest in redistricting and allied topics. I’ve got a post at Cato tying together the latest developments with my own work on redistricting reform in Maryland (earlier on which). Meanwhile, my colleague Ilya Shapiro counters the editors of USA Today on the just-argued case of whether population equality among districts should be based on numbers of persons, including such groups as children and non-citizens, or on numbers of persons eligible to vote, allowing him a rare chance to work the old term “rotten boroughs” from parliamentary history. More on the Evenwel oral argument from Ilya and from Andrew Grossman.
We’ve covered “breed-specific” legal limitations on dog ownership, which often take the form of legislated curbs on particular breeds seen as dangerous, but have also cropped up in judicial rulings designating some breeds as inherently dangerous for purposes of strict liability. As we noted in 2013, after Maryland courts established elevated liability for bites by pit bulls, the result was continued pressure by insurers and landlords for families to abandon or relinquish pets “and a resulting flow of related breeds into the animal shelter system.” Now a story from Prince George’s County, Maryland, one of the larger jurisdictions to ban pit bulls: “A pit bull who stood by her injured owner while their house was on fire is now losing her home — not to the fire itself, but to a law prohibiting pit bulls from living in the county. … Back in May, Michigan’s Hazel Park lifted its pit bull ban in the wake of public outcry, after a dog credited with saving her owner from domestic violence was subsequently thrown out of town.” [Arin Greenwood, Huffington Post]
- Judge Kozinski ate a sandwich paid for by the ACLU and the National Law Journal and American Bar Association are totally on it;
- Update: “Ohio court says city can’t use ‘quick-take’ to seize property” [Watchdog, earlier on town of Perrysburg’s effort to seize property in adjoining Middleton Township]
- Regarding the wildly one-sided attacks on arbitration of late, I’ve noticed that the people who call contractually agreed-to arbitration “forced” are usually the same people who don’t call taxation “forced”;
- “‘Underground Regulations’ Violate the Constitution as Much as Headline-Grabbing Executive Actions” [Ilya Shapiro, earlier on subregulatory guidance]
- Reminder: if you’re interested in Maryland policy you should be keeping abreast of my blog Free State Notes;
- Business litigants battle it out, sugar v. corn syrup [L.A. Times]
- Obama just backed ENDA-on-steroids Equality Act [Washington Post, earlier, Scott Shackford/Reason (bill would cover not only employment but “housing, lending, jury duty, and public accommodations” while “massively expand[ing] what the federal government counts as a public accommodation,” thus turning into federal cases what are currently local disputes like the Arlene’s Flowers case)]
What the reform panel is proposing is about as far removed from party bosses as feasible. …. one thing is clear, the commission is headed in the proper direction.
— Baltimore Sun editorial, November 2
Gerrymandering is rife across the country, resulting in artificially drawn districts intended to protect or defeat certain incumbents, maximize one party’s share of power, or achieve other political goals. My own state of Maryland suffers from a famously awful Congressional gerrymander, including the notorious District 3, compared with a “broken-winged pterodactyl” or the blood splatters from a crime scene.
I’ve had a chance to do something about this problem over the past three months as co-chair of the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission, created by Gov. Larry Hogan in August to gather information and draft recommendations for a new and better way of doing things. Following public hearings, testimony from experts and considerable research, we filed our report with the governor on Tuesday.
Len Lazarick at Maryland Reporter sums up some of the key points. If enacted, our plan would make Maryland the only state in which elected legislators and the governor would no say at all — zero — in deciding who should sit on a line-drawing commission. Our plan follows several elements of California’s ground-breaking plan, including screening of volunteers and randomized pools, simplified and adapted to the circumstances of our smaller state. In addition to requiring congruence with county and city boundaries where possible, contiguity, and compactness, we would join a very few states in instructing the drafters of lines to ignore partisan indicators such as voter registration and past voting results, as well as the place of residence of incumbents or any other person.
Full report here. Some more coverage: Carroll County Times editorial; Naomi Eide, Capital News Service; Josh Hicks, Washington Post; Erin Cox, Baltimore Sun; Fox Baltimore; Jen Fifield, Frederick News-Post (this last quoting me at length, and see also this profile in August).