Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Rauch: Bring back the political Establishment

When roving bandits appear on the scene, you begin to miss the old stationary bandits: Jonathan Rauch wants to bring back the political Establishment of days past, by revisiting primary and campaign-finance laws that were meant to curb the role of party regulars. [The Atlantic]

Bonus, Terry Teachout: “In a totally polarized political environment, persuasion is no longer possible: we believe what we believe, and nothing matters but class and power. We are well on the way … the gap that separates the two Americas has grown so deep and wide that I find it increasingly difficult to imagine their caring to function as a single nation for very much longer. …The main obstacle that stands in the way of the soft disunion of America is that Red and Blue America are not geographically disjunct, as were the North and South in the Civil War.”

“Heap no abuse upon judges”

Ira Stoll recalls a verse from Exodus — translated in the New Berkeley Version of the Christian Bible as “Heap no abuse upon judges” — and notes that the temptation to excoriate judges over unwelcome rulings knows no place or era. Ken White at Popehat pens an explainer, “Is there anything unusual about Judge Curiel’s orders in the Trump University case?” Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales kinda-sorta defends the propriety of litigants’ blasting judges, though in a left-handed way (“if I were a litigant who was concerned about the judge’s impartiality, I certainly would not deal with it in a public manner as Trump has, because it demeans the integrity of the judicial office and thus potentially undermines the independence of the judiciary, especially coming from a man who could be president by this time next year.”), drawing a response from Cassandra Robertson via Jonathan Adler. Eugene Volokh examines the no-not-even-close-on-current-evidence case for Curiel’s recusal. Earlier on the controversy here.

Meanwhile, journalists in Detroit have been recalling the story of the flamboyant, litigious, floppy-haired millionaire populist known for his willingness to insult judges and everyone else, who shoved aside the conventional pols to capture a major party nomination. Of course I’m referring to the 1998 run for governor of Michigan of attorney Geoffrey Fieger, a longtime Overlawyered favorite [Deadline Detroit, Zachary Gorchow/Gongwer]

And also relating to this year’s presidential race, I discussed the Libertarians’ ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld and its attractions in an interview with Mona Charen for her Ricochet podcast “Need to Know” with Jay Nordlinger. More here.

P.S.: Where might a candidate have learned to rant against federal judges who don’t rule his way as “corrupt”? Maybe from New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

Council candidate menaced for using city’s logo on yard signs

“The city of Mesa, Arizona, has threatened suit against a local businessman, Jeremy Whittaker, who is running for city council in opposition to a longtime city employee who enjoys endorsements from several current elected city officials. His offense? His lawn signs and campaign literature include a single-color version of the city’s logo …as a handy way of identifying the office for which he is running.” It has demanded he surrender all his campaign materials bearing the logo, but he’s not planning to give in. [Paul Alan Levy, CL&P via Mike Masnick, TechDirt]

Politics roundup

  • Disparage at thy peril: three Democratic lawmakers demand FTC investigation of private group that purchased $58,000 in ads disparaging CFPB, a government agency [ABC News] So many politicos targeting their opponents’ speech these days [Barton Hinkle]
  • A pattern we’ve seen over the years: promoting himself as outspoken social conservative, trial lawyer running for chairman of Republican Party of Texas [Mark Pulliam, SE Texas Record]
  • Some of which goes to union political work: “Philly Pays $1.5 Million to ‘Ghost Teachers'” [Evan Grossman, Pennsylvania Watchdog via Jason Bedrick]
  • “However objectionable one might find Trump’s rhetoric, the [event-disrupting] protesters are in the wrong.” [Bill Wyman/Columbia Journalism Review, earlier]
  • Hillary Clinton’s connections to Wal-Mart go way back, and hooray for that [Ira Stoll and column]
  • I went out canvassing GOP voters in Maryland before the primary. Here’s what they told me. [Ricochet]

Morgan & Morgan marches on, now with RFK Jr.

Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, whose personal injury law firm bids for the distinction of the nation’s largest, has long been active in politics and policy (including the good libertarian cause of legalizing medical marijuana). So there isn’t much that’s newsy about his hosting an April 29 fundraiser for Hillary Clinton headlined by former President Bill Clinton. More noteworthy is that his law firm, per a March 31 announcement, is now welcoming to its practice as of counsel wayward scion Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the celebrity environmentalist and frothing hothead long associated with the Florida firm of Levin Papantonio. Along with Kennedy, of course, comes metric tons of baggage — on anti-vaccine scaremongering, on hyperbolic crusades against farms, on demands to put his ideological adversaries behind bars, as would-be EPA administrator, and so much more.

P.S. We have often referred to RFK for short in the past as America’s Most Irresponsible Public Figure®. Is it time to retire that nickname in light of the continued rise of other public figures who might justly contend for that title?

Bernie 2016 lawyer: take down that parody image of our candidate

BernieIsMyComradeDaniel McCall of Liberty Maniacs has put out a parody image in which the likeness of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is lined up as the latest in a row of figures such as Marx, Lenin, and Mao. Yesterday, invoking the campaign’s trademark and copyright interests, a Seattle lawyer named Claire Hawkins “has demanded that McCall stop purveying this image.” It’s the latest in a series of aggressive moves by campaigns and candidates including Hillary Clinton, Ben Carson, and Ron Paul, as well as the Republican National Committee, to assert intellectual property as a reason for taking down works that play on their image in either unfavorable or favorable ways as a means of expression. [Paul Alan Levy, Consumer Law & Policy; Ron Coleman, Likelihood of Confusion]

On disrupting opponents’ political events

I’ve got a new piece at Cato noting that an important plank of American political consensus over the past century — that it’s wrong to disrupt and shout down your opponents’ speeches and events — seems to be on the verge of collapsing. An obvious parallel, of course, is to the speech-intolerant “shut-’em-down” culture on many American campuses; but the actions of Black Lives Matter supporters in taking over microphones and blockading freeways have also played an important role.

I begin the piece with the story of a speech I attended at a Federalist Society event last Friday at which Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was shouted down by a squad of disrupters sent, incredibly, by the (c)(4) affiliate of a major think tank in Washington, the Center for American Progress:

(“Today at @SenOrrinHatch’s SCOTUS book event, we said #DoYourJob and vote on on a SCOTUS nominee. They didn’t listen.”)

To which @thomasehopson replied:

More thoughts on shoutdowns and organized heckling as a tactic: Ed Krayewski; Eugene Volokh on the legality/illegality of disrupting events and of some responses to disruption. And: while left-on-right disruption appears to have been more common in recent years, note also this coverage of the equally objectionable other way round, from an Austin town hall on ObamaCare. Plus, Marc Thiessen: disrupters go after Trump rallies in well-organized groups. Yet a “responsible leader tries to calm a volatile situation.”

“I did it to make his life miserable, which I’m happy about.”

As recently as two weeks ago we covered Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s pattern of suing his critics. But the report by Paul Farhi in yesterday’s Washington Post, recounting Trump’s long courtroom assault on reporter Tim O’Brien, contains a remarkable new passage:

Both courts [in ruling that Trump’s suit should be dismissed] cited a lack of “clear and convincing” evidence to satisfy the basic legal test for libeling someone as well known as Trump: willful disregard for the truth. The appeals court noted O’Brien’s diligent and extensive efforts to research Trump’s wealth.

Trump said in an interview that he knew he couldn’t win the suit but brought it anyway to make a point. “I spent a couple of bucks on legal fees, and they spent a whole lot more. I did it to make his life miserable, which I’m happy about.”

Paul Alan Levy, at Public Citizen, calls Trump’s explanation of his actions and motives “astonishing” and says the front-runner’s “admission of malicious reasons for suing a reporter reminds us why we need anti-SLAPP statutes.” For voters, it might also raise questions of what to expect should a candidate with this instrumental view of legal action gain control of the machinery of law enforcement in the United States.

Bonus: “Litigation and legal threats related to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign” [Ballotpedia catalogue]