Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Live-tweeting last night’s GOP debate

I was otherwise engaged during the undercard debate but here are a few things I had to say during the Seven No Trump main panel:

California AG wants nonprofits’ donor lists

“Do you donate to the Sierra Club or the National Rifle Association? California Attorney General Kamala Harris wants to know who you are, what your address is and how much you give….

“Every American has the right to support the causes we believe in without the fear of harassment and retaliation. Disclosure mandates undermine this basic freedom, dry up donations to charities and silence political speech.” [Jon Riches, Sacramento Bee]

Redistricting at the Supreme Court

Yesterday the Supreme Court (ruling only on a narrow procedural issue, not the merits) gave the go-ahead to a suit challenging Maryland’s outlandish Congressional districting map, and three other pending merits cases indicate the Court’s renewed interest in redistricting and allied topics. I’ve got a post at Cato tying together the latest developments with my own work on redistricting reform in Maryland (earlier on which). Meanwhile, my colleague Ilya Shapiro counters the editors of USA Today on the just-argued case of whether population equality among districts should be based on numbers of persons, including such groups as children and non-citizens, or on numbers of persons eligible to vote, allowing him a rare chance to work the old term “rotten boroughs” from parliamentary history. More on the Evenwel oral argument from Ilya and from Andrew Grossman.

Public corruption prosecutions: a panel

Nearly everyone agrees with prosecuting public officials (as well as, on occasion, lobbyists and other private actors) for bribery and some other instances in which officials trade, or are asked to trade, a quid pro quo of official action for money or gifts. Defendants in such cases, on the other hand, such as former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, often object that they are being menaced with criminal sanctions for politics-as-usual doing of favors and constituent service, with the frequent additional suggestion that prosecution is selective and ginned up by opponents for purposes of criminalizing politics and destroying reputations in the media.

A panel discussion at the recent Federalist Society national lawyers’ convention discussed this issue including the episodes of the Wisconsin John Doe proceedings, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Tom DeLay, lobbyist Kevin Ring, and many others. Panelists included private attorneys Todd Graves (Graves Garrett), Edward Kang (Alston & Bird) and Peter Zeidenberg (Arent Fox), Prof. Eugene Volokh, and as moderator the Hon. Raymond Gruender of the Eighth Circuit. David Lat has a good write-up of the panel at Above the Law.

Related: Ilya Shapiro and Randal John Meyer have some questions about recent prosecutions in New Jersey under its official misconduct statute [Cato].

Criminalization of politics: one data point

The urge to criminalize the other guy’s politics and advocacy seems to be running especially strong these days. If you doubt it, here’s another data point: a Latino advocacy group called Presente.org, following Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s controversial comments critical of immigration, called for arresting Trump. Not only did this not stir any great outcry, but rival Democratic presidential candidate Bernard Sanders has now hired Presente.org’s executive director to lead his Latino outreach.

One reason our elections and public debates are intensely fought is that they carry high stakes. Their stakes will be higher yet if the price of coming out on the losing side in an election or debate is to face potential prosecution.

My adventures in redistricting reform

What the reform panel is proposing is about as far removed from party bosses as feasible. …. one thing is clear, the commission is headed in the proper direction.

Baltimore Sun editorial, November 2

Gerrymandering is rife across the country, resulting in artificially drawn districts intended to protect or defeat certain incumbents, maximize one party’s share of power, or achieve other political goals. My own state of Maryland suffers from a famously awful Congressional gerrymander, including the notorious District 3, compared with a “broken-winged pterodactyl” or the blood splatters from a crime scene.

I’ve had a chance to do something about this problem over the past three months as co-chair of the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission, created by Gov. Larry Hogan in August to gather information and draft recommendations for a new and better way of doing things. Following public hearings, testimony from experts and considerable research, we filed our report with the governor on Tuesday.

Len Lazarick at Maryland Reporter sums up some of the key points. If enacted, our plan would make Maryland the only state in which elected legislators and the governor would no say at all — zero — in deciding who should sit on a line-drawing commission. Our plan follows several elements of California’s ground-breaking plan, including screening of volunteers and randomized pools, simplified and adapted to the circumstances of our smaller state. In addition to requiring congruence with county and city boundaries where possible, contiguity, and compactness, we would join a very few states in instructing the drafters of lines to ignore partisan indicators such as voter registration and past voting results, as well as the place of residence of incumbents or any other person.

Full report here. Some more coverage: Carroll County Times editorial; Naomi Eide, Capital News Service; Josh Hicks, Washington Post; Erin Cox, Baltimore Sun; Fox Baltimore; Jen Fifield, Frederick News-Post (this last quoting me at length, and see also this profile in August).

More cease/desists: Presidential candidates vs. their fans, and opponents

Ben Carson’s lawyers to CafePress, printer of shirts and other message products: take down unauthorized merchandise supporting our guy. Paul Alan Levy responds [Metafilter] And candidate Donald Trump, whose lawyer-intensive ways it seems we were covering only yesterday — wait a minute, it was only yesterday — is making more news: “The presidential campaign of Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened legal action against a politically oriented clothing outlet for using the GOP front-runner’s name, which is trademarked, in its domain name and merchandise.” The outlet, Boston-based StopTrump.us, is trying to drum up opposition to Trump. [Igor Bobic and Cristian Farias, Huffington Post, via Eugene Volokh, who doesn’t think much of the claims]

Donald Trump sends nastygram to Club for Growth

Public figure Donald Trump, target of a Club for Growth attack ad, has responded in characteristic manner by firing off a cease and desist letter to the club [Business Insider, Chris Cilizza/Washington Post] Trump lawyer Alan Garten calls the ad:

“…replete with outright lies, false, defamatory attacks and destructive statements and downright fabrications which you fully know to be untrue, thereby exposing you and your so-called ‘club’ to liability for damages and other tortious harm,” Garten wrote.

Garten said he was only willing to offer the Club for Growth a “one-time opportunity to rectify this matter” and avoid “what will certainly be a costly litigation process.”

“In the event, however, that we do not receive these assurances, please be advised that we will commence a multi-million dollar lawsuit against you personally and your organization for your false and defamatory statements,” he concluded. “Please be guided accordingly.”‘

Four years ago I wrote about Trump’s long record of using litigation and its threat as a weapon against critics and journalists whose account of his business dealings he found displeasing, and questioned whether this pattern harmonized well with general Republican/conservative disapproval of the unnecessary use of litigation. Earlier on Trump. More: Jonathan Adler (“suit has no legal basis” and “is what is commonly known as a SLAPP suit — a suit that’s designed to shut people up.”)

“Union leaders are livid”

Scott Walker has announced a far-reaching package of labor reforms going far beyond the cautious Republican norm, including abolishing the NLRB and transferring its power to other agencies, eliminating federal unions, making right-to-work the default federal labor law regime unless states opt out, repealing Davis-Bacon, and more. [Reason, Associated Press, Hot Air interview] Union leaders, quite understandably from their perspective, lost no time in speaking out loudly against Walker’s ideas. Why, one wonders, don’t more business people speak out as loudly against the ideas of Bernie Sanders?