…the U.S. Supreme Court heard argument in what was to become one of its most celebrated tort reform decisions. A profitable national manufacturer had been sued in a distant rural state in which it was decidedly unpopular, resulting in a runaway jury verdict which it sought to challenge on appeal. Pointing out the disadvantages of unpredictable and locally variable tort standards, the corporation’s lawyers pushed for a more uniform and modern standard of liability suited to a nationwide market, which the high court agreed unanimously to develop for the occasion and impose on state courts. And ever since 1964, the winning party in the case — that is to say, the New York Times Company — has taken a sympathetic editorial interest in the plight of other national businesses subjected to runaway verdicts in local courts.
Well, OK, maybe not that last sentence. But the rest of it did happen, in the celebrated case of New York Times v. Sullivan.
In an article today on challenges facing older jobless workers, New York Times reporter Michael Winerip asserts that “Since the Supreme Court ruling [Gross v. FBL Financial Services, a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that made it slightly more difficult to win suits] most lawyers won’t even take age discrimination cases.” Connecticut employment-law blogger Daniel Schwartz wonders where that claim comes from, since the number of EEOC charges in age-bias cases has gone up, not down, since 2009, and since “NELA – the National Employment Lawyers Association — continues to put forward CLE programs discussing how to advance ADEA claims. … So, where did the Times get this assertion from? I’ve hunted for a source but have yet to find one.” [Connecticut Employment Law Blog]
“Then the lawyers pounced.” [Joe Nocera, "Justice, Louisiana Style," New York Times, earlier]
Jacob Sullum does not weary of pointing out the paper’s repeated misreporting about the “Stand Your Ground” principle, misreporting not unrelated to the efforts of campaigners from the Legal Left who have sought to wring ideological advantage from the Martin-Zimmerman case.
New SEC chairman Mary Jo White shows better sense about it than some newspaper editorialists that could be named [Louise Bennetts, Cato]
Ira Stoll catches the New York Times being tendentious again [SmarterTimes]:
…one reason that Texas is at or near the top of the nation in terms of workplace fatalities is that it is at or near the top of the nation in terms of the number of workers and how many hours they work. If you adjust for that, and take the rate of workplace fatalities — that is, the number of fatalities from workplace injuries per 100,000 full-time workers, Texas isn’t worst in the nation, but somewhere in the middle…
Related: Josh Barro, Steven Greenhut (California as comparison).
“That is quite a correction in today’s Times to Mark Bittman’s column the other day about sugar and diabetes,” notes Ira Stoll. Bittman’s column began with the striking opener “Sugar is indeed toxic” and went on to promote a far-reaching regulatory crackdown on sweetened foods. But it soon came under sustained attack from various commentators (more) for misstating recent findings about the health effects of sugar in the diet; it’s true that sugar intake tends to cause obesity and obesity itself causes diabetes, but it’s a separate, unresolved question whether sugar by itself instigates diabetes through some mechanism of action not common to other highly caloric foods.
Here is the correction:
Mark Bittman’s column on Thursday incorrectly described findings from a recent epidemiological study of the relationship of sugar consumption to diabetes. The study found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher rates of diabetes — independent of obesity rates — but stopped short of stating that sugar caused diabetes. It did not find that “obesity doesn’t cause diabetes: sugar does.” Obesity is, in fact, a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, as the study noted.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman believes you’re living in a right-wing “intellectual bubble” if you think rising disability claims in the Social Security program reflect anything other than “the real health problems of an aging work force.” Thing is, no less a personage than former Obama budget director Peter Orszag wrote in the New York Times that the “spike in disability insurance applications (and awards) does not reflect a less healthy population,” and Orszag’s view on this matter is commonplace among many other analysts whose views are hardly conservative. [Ira Stoll, who has just relaunched his wonderful SmarterTimes.com, one of the best media-criticism sites since they invented the Internet; everyone should start reading it]
A. “Buried in the middle of the penultimate paragraph.”
Q. “Where, amid a long rant against the D.C. Circuit’s decision striking down most recess appointments by the President (“A Court Upholds Republican Chicanery”), would you expect the Times to concede that the practice of holding pro forma sessions to stymie such appointments was pioneered under Democratic Senate rule as a way of restraining President George W. Bush?
No prizes, as distinct from amusement value, in demonstrating what the New York Times thought of the practice back then.
More on the Canning v. NLRB decision: Trevor Burrus/Cato, massive link roundup at How Appealing, John Elwood, Point of Law roundtable, Michael Fox/Employer’s Lawyer (implications for NLRB), @markcalabria (implications for Richard Cordray CFPB appointment), Michael Greve, Mike Rappaport.
My colleague John Samples argues for the venerable instrument of Senate obstruction [Philadelphia Inquirer] And some sort of prize should go to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) who chided “one of the major newspapers in our country” — he probably meant the New York Times — for siding with anti-filibuster Democratic ultras this time around, though it had taken exactly the opposite position when Republicans controlled the Senate. “We’ve got to be consistent.” [Dave Weigel]
Jacob Sullum: “New York Times Accidentally Admits That Energy Drinks Are Safer Than Coffee.”
Floyd Abrams, famous for representing the New York Times in the landmark Pentagon Papers litigation, writes in to correct the paper’s faulty grasp of the Citizens United decision [NYT letter]
The popularity of auxiliary home power generators is somehow proof that taxes should be higher? John Steele Gordon tries to parse a New York Times columnist’s argument. [Commentary]
A federal judge has declined jurisdiction of the Oglala Sioux tribe’s lawsuit claiming that liquor sellers just over the Nebraska border are legally answerable for the harms of alcoholism on the reservation. The dismissal is without prejudice to possible refiling of the claims in state court; New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof had promoted the cause. [BBC]
P.S. Kristof vs. college sophomore, advantage sophomore [James Taranto, WSJ, fifth item; Robert James Bidinotto] And don’t get us started about his chemophobia.