Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus… will be argued [before the Supreme Court] in April. The case is a challenge to Ohio’s bizarre statute prohibiting knowingly or recklessly making “false” statements about a political candidate or ballot initiative. In other words, the Ohio Election Commission (OEC) essentially runs a ministry of truth to which any citizen can submit a complaint. Amazingly, twenty other states have such laws.
Laws against lying in political speech are not administered by disinterested truth seekers, but by people with their own political convictions. They chill large amounts of truthful speech and deprive the public of hearing a robust debate on the issues. And, as we will see, they are used by political opponents to turn campaigning into litigation.
It’s actually on a serious subject: can a state (Ohio) purport to ban false, exaggerated or “truthy” speech about candidates, or does that impermissibly chill speech protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment? My colleagues Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus and Gabriel Latner co-authored it on behalf of political humorist/Cato fellow P.J. O’Rourke in the pending SCOTUS case of Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus. Read it here, alongside Ilya Shapiro’s summary, and here’s David Lat of Above the Law calling it the “Best Amicus Brief Ever.“
- Following outcry, Ohio lawmaker drops proposal to license homeschool parents [Jason Bedrick/Cato, sequel]
- In Colorado U. crackdown on professor’s deviance course, university retracts claim that professor needed to clear controversial teaching with institutional review board [Inside Higher Ed, Zachary Schrag and sequel, background on IRBs]
- The purely fictional, entirely bloodless “assassin” game — which I remember was played in my own high school years ago without anyone worrying — now seems to be controversial in suburban D.C. because School Violence and Think of the Children. [Washington Post; Bedrick, Cato on pretend “arrow” zero-tolerance case]
- After son’s death, Ontario mom urges schools to let asthmatic kids carry inhalers [CBC, Bedrick]
- Cathy Young on how the forces of unanimity police discussions of “rape culture” [Minding the Campus]
- Kansas regents forbid faculty/staff to post social media content contrary to best interest of university [WaPo]
- Don’t forget to stop home some time: more public schools serving dinner as well as breakfast and lunch [Future of Capitalism]
In the 1948 case of Shelley v. Kraemer, the U.S. Supreme Court held that racially restrictive real estate covenants, once a common practice, were not enforceable in court. Since then old covenants of that sort in title deeds have been a dead letter, but court clerks continue to copy them over as part of the historical transcription of title language that occurs in many real estate transactions. Now a couple described anonymously as John and Jane Doe, represented by attorney Zachary Gottesman of Cincinnati, have been suing county recorders around the state of Ohio asking for “an injunction requiring recorders to ‘sequester’ the offensive documents or, for those documents that have to be published, to redact the racially-offensive portions. They also ask for their attorney fees to be paid, punitive damages and any other relief the court deems just.” A lawyer representing the county clerks says they are legally obligated to copy, transcribe or otherwise make available the deeds as they find them, and that the anonymous filing of the lawsuit is improper. “Defendants,” argues the brief on their behalf, “cannot be held liable … in the same way a library or museum cannot be held liable for hate speech for maintaining a display of offensive historical documents,” he wrote. Please, don’t give the plaintiffs ideas for more suits. [Zanesville Times Recorder]
Someone needs to organize one pronto, to judge by stories like this one from Ohio, where parents say they need pro bono help against a Child Protective Services attempt to seize custody of their six year old daughter for “neglect” that appears to include letting her walk around the neighborhood [Free-Range Kids, Shackford]
Among the departing lawyers are those representing the state of Ohio in a public employee retirement fund-led class action; the state may not appreciate the fallout from Chesley’s efforts to fight disbarment in Kentucky over the fen-phen scandal. [Cincinnati Enquirer] Many of the one-time “Master of Disaster’s” bipartisan political ties, however, remain cozy:
Chesley noted that Hamilton County [= Cincinnati] Prosecutor Joe Deters, who has worked for Chesley as a private attorney for four years, continues to work at the firm.
Deters also works as a private attorney for the new firm created by Chesley’s former lawyers. Deters, a leader in Hamilton County’s Republican Party, praises Chesley, who has helped raise millions for Democrats…
- If you file a tag-along injury claim over a mishap on the city bus, remember that surveillance cameras might be able to establish whether you were on the bus at the time [Philadelphia, Chamber-backed Pennsylvania Record]
- Baltimore, West Virginia among jurisdictions licked by flames in new “Judicial Hellhole” report [ATRA] Related? “New ad damnum law in Maryland” [Ron Miller]
- Ohio calls on asbestos claimants to notify adversaries about others they’ve sued for exposure, which is only fair [WSJ editorial, Daniel Fisher, Forbes, Buckeye Institute PDF]
- “Did the Founders’ Constitution Permit Federal Tort Reform?” [Randy Barnett and commenters]
- NY trial lawyers’ big-league political spending [NYP] [Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, PDF]
- Dueling theories on helicopter crash [AZCentral.com]
- “2012 Spot the Tort Contest” [LawHaha]
- As wildlife policy goes wrong, it’s guano on the rocks for La Jolla [Matt Welch, language]
- Georgia-Pacific West vs. NEDC: “Millions of jobs at stake in logging case” [David Hampton, Wash. Times; Henry Miller, Forbes]
- Ontario environment ministry won’t investigate complaint of noise from neighbor’s basketball play [National Post, earlier]
- Maryland: Following state mandate, Howard County prepares to stifle farmland development without compensation [HoCoRising]
- Role of local government structure: “New England vs. Midwest Culture” [George Mattei, Urbanophile]
- More re: suits vs. utilities over Sandy outages [Bloomberg (Long Island), NJ.com] Pre-Sandy, NY pols kicked around Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) for decades [Nicole Gelinas/ NYP]
- “Reckless Endangerment: Global Warming in the Courts” [Michael Greve, Liberty and Law] Various interest groups have already locked themselves into EPA’s jury-rigged scheme to limit carbon emissions [Greve]
Thursday was one of the strangest days in Ohio high school football history. Not a single down was played and it ended in total confusion…. The Ohio Supreme Court might have the final word….
Edgewood Superintendent Joe Spiccia said the plan Thursday night was to create a conflicting court order, which it did. … [OHSAA spokesman Tim Stried] said neither game will be played until the case is resolved by another court because if either game took place, it would be violating one of the two court orders.
Will the Obama administration’s much-publicized restrictions on new coal burning electric plants really crimp the economy of the Midwest? Or, given that the market for new plants appears to have tipped decisively toward natural gas for the foreseeable future, do they amount to a “regulatory nothing-burger?” [Jerry Rogers and Peter Van Doren (Cato), Forbes, via David Henderson]