Too amusing not to quote:
In my offhand judgment, Justice Breyer’s argument about the ATS and its “fit” with the presumption [against extraterritoriality] has force. (The Chief has an answer, but it’s a very close call.) What this is actually about, though, is a monitoring problem; and on that, the Chief is right.
The ATS has become a playpen for a cabal of international law enthusiasts and plaintiffs’ lawyers. Couple the former’s wild-eyed global aspirations with the latter’s eagerness to drag corporations through our one-of-a-kind tort system, and it’s Katy, bar the door. The Chief’s rule blocks all that: if it happened abroad, that’s it. Justice Breyer’s position, in contrast, would compel the Court to monitor all the places and institutions where this stuff gets out of hand: the Ninth Circuit; the wildest district courts in the country; the folks who are in charge of the Restatement of Foreign Relations; and the people who crank up “customary” international law (which becomes “customary” when someone at Yale Law School says it is, and the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs agrees). If some foreign employees of a U.S. company sue other employees of that company over tortious sexual harassment at the company’s foreign plants, has the defendants’ conduct “substantially and adversely affect[ed] an important American national interest,” that of serving as a beacon of sexual equality in the world? You tell me.
To ask the Supreme Court to keep an eye on this is to declare surrender. So it’s good that the Court has drawn a line. Whether it’ll hold, we’ll see.
A new type of Ninth Circuit opinion. [Joe Palazzolo, WSJ Law Blog]
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit led by Judge Stephen Trott has rejected a settlement between class action lawyers and Kellogg over allegedly misleading promotion of its Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal. The settlement involved a smallish refund offer for the class of consumers, an unrelated food giveaway (so-called cy pres relief, given to beneficiaries other than the class initially wronged), and $2 million to the plaintiff’s lawyers, or roughly $2,100 an hour. [Hans von Spakowsky/PJ Media, Ted Frank/PoL, ABA Journal]
As green czars go, the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator are at least circumscribed by law, the powers of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals much less so. When a majority of the circuit ruled the other day that California could not resume permitting suction panning of riverbeds for traces of gold, Judge Milan Smith Jr. along with three colleagues dissented with some asperity. “Here we go again,” he began, and went on to cite Gulliver bound by the Lilliputians. To quote the WSJ Law Blog:
No legislature or regulatory agency would enact sweeping rules that create such economic chaos, shutter entire industries, and cause thousands of people to lose their jobs. That is because the legislative and executive branches are directly accountable to the people through elections, and its members know they would be removed swiftly from office were they to enact such rules,” he wrote.
“Unfortunately,” he added, “I believe the record is clear that our court has strayed with lamentable frequency from its constitutionally limited role.”
Although you might say they’re a little late to this story, it’s still a welcome development. I discuss the piece and its background in a new Cato post (& welcome Glenn Reynolds/Instapundit readers). Hans Bader and Jacob Sullum also weigh in.
While we’re at it, here are some more links not yet blogged in this space on this busy extraction industry: Hackensack, N.J. has its own serial ADA filer [Bergen Record; letter from Marcus Rayner, NJLRA]. California small businesses continue their protests [Lodi News-Sentinel, background on George Louie; ABC L.A. (Alfredo Garcia, who's filed hundreds of ADA suits, described as "illegal immigrant and convicted felon"; background on his attorney, Overlawyered favorite Morse Mehrban)] And in case you were wondering about the enabling role of the courts, here’s a recent Ninth Circuit decision ruling it an abuse of discretion for a trial court to have cut a lawyer’s fee award in an ADA barrier case [Bagenstos, Disability Law] Much more at our ADA filing mills tag.
The Ninth Circuit properly vindicates the constitutional principle of freedom of association in a clash with housing discrimination law. [Rigel Oliveri, Washington Post]
I’ve got an instant analysis up at Cato at Liberty of the retailer’s big Supreme Court win today in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the class action certification case. The Court ruled unanimously that the Ninth Circuit had jumped the gun in certifying the case as a class action, and 5-to-4 (Scalia writing) that plaintiffs had failed to assemble the evidence needed for certification. (& welcome Real Clear Politics “Best of the Blogs”, Atlantic Wire, Nicole Neily/Daily Caller, Jon Hyman, SCOTUSBlog)
More: Josh Blackman (with a comment on the Court’s recognition of the work of the late Richard Nagareda), Hans Bader, Jim Copland, John Steele Gordon. Spot-the-errors dept.: Dahlia Lithwick. Briefs and other resources on the case at SCOTUSBlog.
Even the Ninth Circuit’s not buying that one, note David Lehrer and Joe Hicks at City Journal.
Developments in an emerging area of law much explored in my forthcoming book:
- “Developing Countries Could Sue for Climate Action — Study” [NYT/ClimateWire] “Do We Need Global Governance To Combat Global Warming?” [Ilya Somin/Volokh]
- From UN and oddly uncontroversial Human Rights Watch, pressure on U.S. to alter labor law in union-friendly direction [ShopFloor, Chamber Post]
- Recent academic conferences: “2009 National Forum on the Human Right to Housing” [Nov. 2009, Georgetown Law] “International and Comparative Law Review Symposium on the significance of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” [Loyola L.A., Mar. 2010]
- At whose expense? “UN General Assembly Invents a Right to Water and Sanitation” [GGW, BoingBoing]
- Again, some survivors of U.S.S. Cole attack on U.S. military personnel sue government of Sudan [Jay Nordlinger/NRO "Corner", related paper by Elizabeth Bahr, George Mason]
- Copying liberals’ homework, some anti-abortionists claim mantle of international human rights for their cause [NRO "Bench Memos," approvingly, via Ku/OJ]
- “An Eminently Sound Approach to (Supposed) International Human Rights Norms, from the 9th Circuit” [Volokh]
- What Keynes knew: after 92 years, Germany finally pays off the last Versailles reparations [Marian Tupy, Cato at Liberty]
Much reaction in the comments at the San Francisco Chronicle to the Ninth Circuit’s “Chipotle Experience discriminates against the disabled” ruling. Earlier here. And Ted at PoL notes this significant passage rejected by the appeals court:
The [district] court found that Antoninetti had failed to show irreparable injury because he had not revisited either restaurant after Chipotle adopted its written policy and because his “purported desire to return to the [r]estaurants is neither concrete nor sincere or supported by the facts.” It also stated that Antoninetti’s “history as a plaintiff in accessibility litigation supports this Court’s finding that his purported desire to return to the [r]estaurants is not sincere. Since immigrating to the United States in 1991, Plaintiff has sued over twenty business entities for alleged accessibility violations, and, in all (but one) of those cases, he never returned to the establishment he sued after settling the case and obtaining a cash payment.”
More on ADA filing mills here. And I’ve now got a longer post up at Cato at Liberty comparing the policy problem of serial ADA complaints to that of patent trollery, mass filing of “citizen suits”, and the business model of recently formed copyright-holder RightHaven. More: Carl Horowitz, NLPC.
Among reactions and links to my Cato piece yesterday: David Frum, Brian Doherty/Reason “Hit and Run”, Richard Epstein/Ricochet, LoTempio Law Blog/Blawg Review #274, John Stossel/Fox Business (with kind words), Steve Bussey (ditto, with a historic-preservation-related reader comment).
In other news, a Ninth Circuit panel (Friedman, Nelson, Reinhardt) has ruled that the “Chipotle Experience” at Chipotle Mexican Grill, in which customers can watch their food being made behind a glass partition, violates the ADA “because the restaurants’ 45-inch counters are too high. The company now faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.” [AP, Reuters, decision in Antoninetti v. Chipotle courtesy Leagle]. More: Ted at PoL and my followups here and at Cato at Liberty.
The test case in the city of Muenster has German municipal officials worried about busted budgets. [Guardian, Telegraph] So-called “don/doff” lawsuits have been a pretty big deal in our own employment law in recent years, although, as our 2008 report from Arkansas indicates, they don’t always have the support of the putative victims.