Posts Tagged ‘politics’

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, 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?

Republican debate observations

“Cross-examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth,” a great legal scholar once wrote. Fox News proved it — and generated a superior, entertaining debate — by aiming genuinely hard, personalized questions at the Republican front-runners. We know more now about which candidates are heedless of liberty and the U.S. Constitution, ill-prepared or inconsistent. Would that the press were this tough on all candidates.

I live-tweeted it last night and here are a few highlights, in earliest-to-latest chronological order:

More 140-character commentary on the debates, including the one earlier this week, at this link. And more from Cato colleagues.

Live-tweeting debate tonight, #Cato2016

I’ll be joining Cato Institute colleagues tonight (Monday) from 7 p.m. Eastern live-tweeting the first Republican presidential candidate debate of the election cycle at hashtag #Cato2016. Details here. Follow along! And please follow my own account on Twitter as well as Overlawyered’s.

Update: You can read the results here, including favorable mentions of Rick Perry’s legal reform and Carly Fiorina’s critique of Dodd-Frank, as well as a question I wish they’d asked Lindsey Graham and some cruel nicknames coined by P.J. O’Rourke.

April 28 roundup

  • “The makers of smokeless tobacco products like to claim that their products are safer than cigarettes.” Hey, New York Times, that’s ’cause it’s true! [Jacob Sullum]
  • New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman pursues high-profile case against Standard & Poor’s, accepts $50K contribution from CEO of another credit rating firm [Richard Pollock/Daily Caller, some background]
  • Megan McArdle on child support and the difficulty of replacing social norms with law [Bloomberg View, my recent Cato post and podcast]
  • “Wisconsin Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson should drop her lawsuit” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial, earlier; AP (federal judge declines to block law’s implementation while suit is pending)]
  • CVS opposes certification of securities class action, saying government pension managers filing it were influenced by political donations from plaintiff’s law firm [Law360, reg]
  • “Has Conley v. Gibson really been overruled? (And did the Fourth Circuit just tee up the next big SCOTUS case on pleading?)” [Adam Steinman, Civil Procedure Blog, arguing from premises different from mine, on Fourth Circuit’s decision in McCleary-Evans v. Maryland Department of Transportation]
  • The Maryland knife law angle in the Freddie Gray story [Patrik Jonsson, Christian Science Monitor; my post at Free State Notes]

Harvard study: lawyers tilt left, judges don’t

A new study out of Harvard finds that lawyers in the United States lean left politically — though not nearly as far left as do law professors — while judges’ political views by contrast tend more toward the middle of the spectrum. An author of the study concludes something’s wrong with the judges. Oh, Harvard, don’t ever change [Adam Liptak, New York Times]

P.S. And in case you hadn’t guessed, lawyers are phenomenally active in the political process:

The study is based on an analysis of the campaign contributions of American lawyers, a group that turns out to be exceptionally active in the financial side of elections.

Of the 975,000 lawyers listed in 2012 in the Martindale-Hubbell legal directory, 43 percent had made contributions to state or federal candidates — including state judicial candidates — since 1979. That is about 10 times the rate of the voting-age population.

One difficulty with the study’s approach, as Liptak notes, is that contributions may reflect factors distinct from ideological leanings, such as economic self-interest. Certainly some lawyers have no terribly strong political views of their own but regard Democratic policies as more conducive to the prosperity of the legal sector or their own particular firm.

New York Times on the AG-trial lawyer alliance

The close working relationship between some state attorneys general and private trial lawyers — in which the AGs hire the lawyers to represent their states for a percentage fee of the haul — is not a new topic to us here at Overlawyered, but it’s nice to see it getting aired at length in the Dec. 18 New York Times piece by reporter Eric Lipton. The title gives a good introduction: “Lawyers Create Big Paydays by Coaxing Attorneys General to Sue” and in fact the private lawyers who commonly pitch the suits are themselves sometimes former state attorneys general, such as Michael Moore of Mississippi (of longstanding fame here), Patricia Madrid of New Mexico, Patrick Lynch of Rhode Island, Drew Edmondson of Oklahoma, and Peg Lautenschlager of Wisconsin. A few excerpts:

  • Law firm donations to AGs or “party-backed organizations that they run” “often come in large chunks just before or after” inking contracts to represent the state. A sidebar chart, “Political Gifts from Plaintiffs Lawyers,” confirms that most of the money flows to partisan attorney general associations ($3.8 million to Democrats and $1.6 million to Republicans over a decade) or state parties ($1.5 vs. $445,000) as opposed to candidates directly ($2 million vs. $240,000, not counting AGs running for governor).
  • When various AGs signed a brief to the Supreme Court supporting the plaintiff’s side in a securities litigation case, it was after being sedulously cultivated to do so by the lawyers.
  • “…at least three former attorneys general are pitching painkiller abuse cases to states nationwide, although no state has yet publicly signed up.” More on the Chicago and California-county painkiller cases here.
  • Yes: “‘Farming out the police powers of the state to a private firm with a profit incentive is a very, very bad thing,’ said Attorney General John Suthers of Colorado, a Republican and a former United States attorney.”

Full article, again, here. Michael Greve has further commentary on why it’s often AGs from small states who take the lead and whether business really started it all.