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Three columns to read on the subject: Gene Healy, Glenn Reynolds (linking this site), and Nat Hentoff (like Healy, a Cato colleague) in his syndicated column (thanks for mention). I had a letter to the editor yesterday in the Frederick News-Post drawing connections with local lawmakers (as well as a blog post at Free State Notes with similar themes) and the Arizona Republic quoted me Tuesday on the federal subsidy programs that drive militarization, including transfers to the ever-controversial Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office of Joe Arpaio. Earlier here, here, here, here, here, etc.

P.S. Also quoted on NPR.

  • D.C.-area listeners: Today (Monday) I’m scheduled to join host Diane Rehm on her popular WAMU radio show, along with other panelists, tune in at 10 a.m. [update: transcript];
  • “A few people have pointed it out, but our ROE [Rules of Engagement] regarding who we could point weapons at in Afghanistan was more restrictive than cops in MO.” [@jeffclement, part of an interesting Storify on veterans’ opinions of Ferguson; related on gun-handling practice of Ferguson police last week as seen by gun aficionados [Reddit via VICE]
  • Obama should call for an end to the 1033 program, which drives local police militarization, says my Cato colleague Tim Lynch [CNN, Yahoo] Pentagon surplus grants to local police don’t correlate with terror threats (state that gets most per officer: Alabama) [WP] Missouri grant angle [David Mastio and Kelsey Rupp, USA Today]
  • SWAT raids on poker games and a comedian: John Stossel’s column this week is on Ferguson [Fox] The inimitable Mark Steyn [Steyn Online] And for balance here’s a contrary view from someone who views militarization as both inevitable and necessary [Jazz Shaw, Hot Air]
  • “What I Did After Police Killed My Son” [Politico; Michael Bell of Kenosha, Wis.]
  • Asset forfeiture, federal partnerships fed St. Louis County gear acquisition [Eapen Thampy, Forfeiture Reform] More background on forces fueling militarization [Glenn Reynolds, Popular Mechanics, 2006]
  • “The Missouri Highway Patrol, St. Louis County, and the City of Ferguson agree that public has the ‘right to record public events'” [Volokh, 2010 Cato video] “Prove the truth”: why cameras help good cops [Nick Gillespie]

I’ve been blogging about a different political poster each day this week at Cato:

* Monday, “Socialism Would Mean Inspectors All Round,” 1929 British Conservative Party poster;

* Tuesday, “Come on, Dad! We’re going to vote Liberal,” 1929 British Liberal Party poster;

* Wednesday, “I Need Smokes,” World War One American poster;

* Thursday, Art Deco Prohibitionist traffic safety poster.

Update: and here’s Friday’s final installment, a contemporary freedom-of-the-press poster from Jordan.

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If you’re the federal government, one thing it’s good for is to turn a losing claim — losing because filed too late — into a possible winner. It works through something called the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act (WSLA), enacted by Congress in 1942 as the U.S. entered World War Two, and I explain it in this guest column for Jurist.

On President Obama’s memo on targeted extrajudicial killing of Americans, a roundtable at NYT “Room for Debate“; Glenn Greenwald; Brad Wendel, Legal Ethics Forum; Jack Goldsmith and Benjamin Wittes/Susan Hennessey at Lawfare; Trevor Burrus, Cato, Lowering the Bar.


…has male-only draft registration become unconstitutional? Gerard Magliocca and commenters discuss.

More: from Ilya Somin (best answer is less conscription, not more); “David Hume” at Secular Right.


The foreign policy debate

by Walter Olson on October 23, 2012

A few selected tweets:

And about the last debate:

Get ready for the cognitive dissonance among many on both left and right: Second Circuit chief judge Dennis Jacobs, long a favorite of the Federalist Society (and of mine), has written the opinion striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in Windsor v. U.S. I have more at my Maryland for All Families blog.


June 1 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 1, 2012

  • Most embarrassing lawsuit Hall of Fame (plaintiff’s decedent division) [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, cardiology med-mal; more]
  • Latest twist in ongoing speech-chilling saga worthy of attention from PEN: attorney Aaron Walker is charged in Rockville, Md. after a court interprets his blogging about an adversary as a violation of a peace order [Hans Bader and more, Eugene Volokh, Scott Greenfield with comments from Maryland lawyer Bruce Godfrey, Patterico, Popehat, and many others; earlier here, here, and here.] And Ken at Popehat, in a perhaps not unrelated development, puts out a call for a pro bono criminal lawyer to protect a blogger in M.D. Fla. and M.D. Tenn.
  • California lament: Facebook must pay hefty bribe to be allowed to hire more employees [Coyote]
  • “The burdens of e-discovery” [Ted Frank/PoL]
  • Strangest judicial campaign video of the year? [Jim Foley, candidate for Washington Court of Appeals, Olympia; Above the Law, followup]
  • Massive wave of disability claims among returning vets [AP]
  • We keep loading up company compliance/ethics folk with new regulatory responsibilities. How’s that working out? [Compliance Week]


November 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 22, 2011


A staffer at Suffolk Law School in Boston solicited “much needed supplies to put in care packages to be sent to deployed troops” in Afghanistan, including a Suffolk student serving there. That didn’t sit well with Prof. Michael Avery, whose letter deploring the request, as well as the display of a large American flag at Suffolk, has been stirring discussion among Michael Graham listeners and Above the Law readers ever since.

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Charles Moore, writing in the U.K. Telegraph, is dubious about Conservative proposals to turn a British “Military Covenant” of fair treatment for troops into enforceable law.

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Kenneth Anderson at Instapundit notes the latest outbreak of “lawfare,” the use of litigation against diplomatic and military actors. “As with most of these advocacy campaigns, the point is not to win cases, but to create a public narrative that says the practice is unsavory and illegitimate, and leverage that into personal legal uncertainty for officials, whether in office or once they leave government.” I’ve got much more on the phenomenon — and its large base of support in present-day legal academia — in Schools for Misrule.

Separately, Gabriel Schoenfeld at National Affairs argues that “when it comes to the American government’s efforts to provide for the common defense, a far-reaching legalism has taken hold,” and Anderson has more on the legalities of last week’s Bin Laden raid.


But that hasn’t stood in the way of a push to sign up clients for law firms in the vicinity of the Frederick, Md. armed forces base. [WJZ, Army Times]


March 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 15, 2011

  • “A conversation with class action objector Ted Frank” [American Lawyer]
  • Reviews of new Lester Brickman book Lawyer Barons [Dan Fisher/Forbes, Russell Jackson] Plus: interview at TortsProf; comments from Columbia legal ethicist William Simon [Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “Collective Bargaining for States But Not for Uncle Sam” [Adler] Examples of how Wisconsin public-sector unionism has worked in practice [Perry] Wisconsin cop union: nice business you got there, shame if anything were to happen to it [Sykes, WTMJ] “Union ‘rights’ that aren’t” [Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe]
  • “Minnesota House Considering Significant Consumer Class Action Reform Measures” [Karlsgodt]
  • 10,000 lawyers at DoD? Rumsfeld complains military overlawyered [Althouse via Instapundit]
  • “Are Meritless Claims More Prevalent in Copyright?” [Boyden, Prawfs]
  • Claim: availability of punitive damages reduces rate of truck accidents. Really? [Curt Cutting]
  • Now with improved federalism: “The Return of the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act” [Carter Wood, more, earlier here].

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Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on March 6, 2011

  • Looks as if ROTC will return to Yale and Harvard despite some misgivings at the latter institution over the military’s treatment of transgendered persons [Atlantic Wire, Weekly Standard; also see my Daily Caller interview]
  • California state bar urges U.S. News to factor racial diversity into law school rankings [Althouse]
  • Right-of-center commentators clash on Ninth Circuit nomination of Berkeley lawprof Goodwin Liu [Damon Root, Reason]
  • Odds of this resulting purely from chance distribution would seem pretty low: of 32 members of Congress who have Harvard degrees, 29 are Democrats [Stoll, Future of Capitalism]
  • Rather disrespectful review of new Ronald Dworkin book [Simon Blackburn, Times Higher Ed]
  • There’ll always be a legal academia dept.: “Multidimensional Masculinities and Law: A Colloquium” [UNLV/Suffolk via LaborProf]


The Federalist Society has posted numerous videos from its recent National Lawyers’ Convention, including sessions on the aggressive regulatory stance of today’s Environmental Protection Agency, the constitutionality of Obamacare, anonymity and the First Amendment in media and campaign-regulation law, NYU’s Richard Epstein debating Yale’s Bill Eskridge on the court battle over California’s Prop 8, recusal and campaign rules for judges, Dodd-Frank, and the Christian Legal Society v. Martinez case on accreditation of student groups, among other topics. And civil procedure/Iqbal-Twombly buffs may be interested in a luncheon panel held just yesterday in D.C. (I was in the audience) in which four law professors (Don Elliott of Yale, Martin Redish and Ronald Allen of Northwestern, and Rick Esenberg of Marquette) outlined ideas for reforming the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to reduce discovery costs and improve screening of cases in the earliest stages of filing.

The video above is of the Society’s 10th annual Barbara Olson Memorial Lecture, in which Second Circuit Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs provocatively criticizes legal academia and other precincts of influential legal thinking for misunderstanding the role of the military and its relation to the law.

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November 24 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 24, 2010

  • Jack Park on Bruesewitz v. Wyeth vaccine preemption case at Supreme Court [Heritage]
  • Incidentally happening to assure lawyers more access to work: Harvard’s Tribe devises “access to justice” initiatives for Obama administration [BLT]
  • New Haven cops accidentally photograph themselves deleting video of an unlawful arrest [Balko]
  • How elite law culture miscomprehends the military [Second Circuit chief judge Dennis Jacobs speech at Federalist Society convention, YouTube]
  • “Later, Bad Lawyer”: a blogger heads to prison [Greenfield]
  • Reform medical liability? Depends on how badly you want neurosurgeons’ services [Michael Lavyne, NYDN]
  • “Cab-rank principle” in legal ethics explained [Lawyers' Lawyer, Australia; via Legal Ethics Forum]
  • $3.5 million award to unsuccessful suicide-while-in-custody is one of long series of such cases [six years ago on Overlawyered]