- Case of Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, suspended 5 times before faking his suicide as death in the line of duty, also illustrates how hard it is to fire a public employee [Scott Reeder/Chicago Sun-Times, reprint at Reboot Illinois]
- More on campaign to extend hate crime laws to cover assaults on police [Tim Cushing/TechDirt, earlier here]
- If cops in bad shootings can’t be prosecuted, is it too much to ask at least that they be fired? [Jonathan Blanks, Washington Post] Or at least that we get to find out their names? “Bill shielding identities of police who use force passes Pennsylvania House” [Watchdog]
- Speaking of privacy: “Three Minneapolis officers sue after their names are revealed in prostitution sting” [Star Tribune]
- Also, how Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights (LEOBR) laws fit in: “How bloated pensions contribute to police brutality” [Radley Balko]
- “Reducing the Power of Paramilitary Unions is a Civil Rights Issue” [John McGinnis, Law and Liberty; related, Campaign Zero, Coyote, Michael Wear/USA Today]
- Albuquerque cop, fired after having his lapel cam turned off during a shooting, wins reinstatement to force [David Kravets, ArsTechnica via Matthew Feeney, Cato]
- “NLRB: Unions have a right to know employees home phone numbers. If firms don’t have them, they must obtain them.” [@JamesBSherk summarizing Sean Higgins/Washington Examiner on Danbury Hospital case]
- Subpoenas get NLRB into redaction fight with McDonald’s [Sean Higgins/Examiner; more on joint-employer battle from International Franchise Association via Connor Wolf, Daily Caller]
- George Leef reviews Daniel DiSalvo’s book on public sector unionism, Government Against Itself [Forbes]
- “Seattle May Soon Force Uber And Lyft Drivers To Unionize” [Connor Wolf/Caller]
- Your periodic reminder that the “add union organizing to protected classes under civil rights law” formula is one of the worst ideas ever [Jon Hyman, Wolf/Caller on Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.)]
- Sen. Orrin Hatch: my proposed Employee Rights Act would “allow workers a greater role in how their union represents them” [Washington Times, background at Washington Examiner]
- Philadelphia union extortion and violence episode is a reminder it’s past time to revisit 1973 SCOTUS case of U.S. v. Enmons which tended to give a green light to such things [Mark Mix, Washington Times]
“Since 2010, the state [of New York] has sought to fire 30 prison guards accused of abusing inmates through a convoluted arbitration process that is required under the union contract. Officials have prevailed only eight times, according to records of disciplinary cases released under state Freedom of Information Law requests.” [Tom Robbins, The Marshall Project; earlier on difficulty of investigating Attica abuse allegations, and related on correctional officers’ bill of rights laws]
“Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan blamed the state’s largest employee’s union for not being able to remove corrections employees who face charges that range from driving under the influence to assault….Since 2013, more than 200 Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services employees have been charged with crimes that include DUI, assault and having sexual relations with an inmate, yet they remain on the job.” Union officials, however, say the governor is in error, and that it’s state law, rather than AFSCME contract terms, that restrict dismissals. So no problem! [WBAL, auto-plays; earlier on Maryland’s Correctional Officers Bill of Rights law, a younger sibling to its Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) law for police]
More background on police bill of rights laws, and their origin in the wake of the Kerner commission report on 1960s civil unrest [Scott Greenfield] Veteran police lawyer Herbert Weiner, general counsel to Maryland State FOP Lodge, defends the state’s LEOBR [Al-Jazeera] And commenter Daniel Martin at Popehat on some curious implications of Maryland’s LEOBR, which prohibits investigating cops for some types of misconduct “until the victim, their immediate family, or a direct witness swears out a complaint.”
Yet more: In Pennsylvania, “members of the Fraternal Order of Police are rallying behind legislation to shield the identities of officers who use force.” It’s backed in Harrisburg by Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) and Sen. John Sabatina, D-Philadelphia. [Watchdog] And with respect to our post of the other day, a commenter writes that the city of Tucson’s two-tiered informational release — withholding the names of police in a prostitution investigation while releasing those of civilians — was not done at city authorities’ discretion but in compliance with a newspaper’s public records request, in conjunction with a state law shielding police privacy.
- On California Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk: “Bill punishes cities that have transparent labor process” [Steven Greenhut, San Diego Union-Tribune]
- “Jeweler tries to sue anonymous woman who left 1-star Yelp review” [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica]
- Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has put out a new draft of First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) minus some provisions that I and others had sharply criticized. Does it fix enough? [draft; Lee letter in NYT; National Review editors, arguing on behalf of new draft]
- Local ordinances deeming properties a nuisance if they get frequent police calls pressure landlords to evict domestic violence victims [Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check on ACLU lawsuit against city of Surprise, Arizona]
- Wisconsin: “This is a slippery slope when the government starts telling parents whether or not their teenagers can get a sun tan” [AP/Dubuque, Ia., Telegraph Herald]
- “Chinese Nail Salon Owners: ‘Shame on You New York Times!'” [Jim Epstein, Reason, earlier]
- And still she won’t resign: “Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspends Attorney General Kane’s law license” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, earlier]
- Government as source of product misinformation [David Henderson notes my City Journal discussion of NY AG Eric Schneiderman’s crusade on herbal supplements]
- “Under Armour is suing pretty much every company using the name ‘Armor'” [Washington Post]
- Maryland police unions defend LEOBR (“bill of rights”) tenure laws [my Free State Notes, Ed Krayewski, Scott Greenfield]
- Someone uses an iPhone to transact Islamic State business; could a court find Apple liable for providing material support for terrorism? [Benjamin Wittes, Zoe Bedell, Lawfare]
- Maybe green-lighting a union for tax collecting staff wasn’t such a hot idea in the first place [Washington Post]
- Seventh Circuit: “Appeals court apologizes for literally misplacing case for five years as lawyers wondered what was taking so long” [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog]
- For the sake of professional dignity, in future employ authorized methods only: “Italian lawyer steals French tourist’s wallet” [The Local, Italy]
- Widely discussed new Charles Murray book, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty without Permission, includes extensive discussion of failures of law and litigation system [Carlos Lozada WaPo review, Cato’s Letter, podcast and related post, J.D. Tuccille/Reason]
- Rare and welcome book-length work on state attorneys general, Paul Nolette’s Federalism on Trial: State Attorneys General and National Policymaking in Contemporary America, I’ll have more to say about it in due course [Liberty and Law, discussion with author]
- The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom by my Cato colleague David Boaz, a revised and updated edition of his earlier Libertarianism: A Primer, includes chapter on law and the constitution as well as much related discussion; boasts blurbs from John Mackey, Peter Thiel, and Richard Epstein;
- Arnold Kling on Political Realism, new free e-book from Jonathan Rauch; also, Kling reviews a recent talk at Cato by Michael Shermer on his book The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom;
- “We will fight for a fair contract!” proclaimed then-N.J. Gov. Jon Corzine to government workers, neat trick if you accept assumption that he was on opposite side of negotiating table from them [Michael Toth on new Daniel DiSalvo book on public sector unionism, Government Against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences]
- In the mail: Akhil Amar, The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic, on how the idiosyncrasies of particular states, regions, and localities have shaped our understanding of the U.S. Constitution;
- And: Jay Cost, A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption [related Cato event]
- And: Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Jared Meyer, Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America’s Young;
- And: Jack C. Fisher, Silicone on Trial: Breast Implants and the Politics of Risk [Sager Group]
- NLRB ruling: calling one’s boss “nasty m___f___” can be protected labor advocacy for which dismissal is unlawful [Pier Sixty LLC; Michael Schmidt, Cozen O’Connor, Jon Hyman]
- “Declining Desire to Work and Downward Trends in Unemployment and Participation” [Tyler Cowen]
- Public sector union negotiations need sunlight [Trey Kovacs, Workplace Choice]
- “Is Non-Pregnancy a BFOQ [Bona Fide Occupational Qualification] for Exotic Dancers?” [Philip K. Miles III, Lawffice Space]
- “EEOC Issues Long-Awaited Wellness Program Rules” [Daniel Schwartz]
- Following New York Times investigation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo cracks down on employment at nail salons, and that will hurt immigrant workers [Alex Nowrasteh, New York Post; Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Reason and more, New York Times “Room for Debate”]
- President Obama keeps promoting myths about Lilly Ledbetter case [Hans Bader, CEI; Glenn Kessler, Washington Post; earlier]
“I don’t understand how she [Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake] can continually say they’re not cooperating,” Michael E. Davey, an attorney for the police union, told The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday. “They are. They did. And they’re lucky they got those statements before I got involved.”
They’re lucky they got those statements before I got involved. That’s a little window into the adversarial relationship between the union representing six Baltimore officers under investigation and city officials charged with determining whether Freddie Gray’s fatal injuries in police custody might have been caused by foul play such as an unbelted “rough ride” in the back of a police van.
Newsweek, and before that the Foundation for Economic Education, have now reprinted a short Cato at Liberty piece in which I describe the operation of Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights (LEOBR or LEOBoR) laws, of which Maryland passed the first in the early 1970s, and which have spread to more than a dozen states; in many other localities union contract provisions accomplish some of the same goals. These laws sharply restrain how police forces can pursue misconduct investigations against suspected officers, and officials in Baltimore and elsewhere have repeatedly cited the law as an impediment to investigations of officer misconduct long predating the Freddie Gray incident, including the probe into the enormous scandal of employee misconduct at the state-run Baltimore jail. (I’ve got more at Free State Notes about the local Maryland angle, including the failure of efforts this year in the state legislature to reform the law.)
Radley Balko followed up with a post summarizing my argument and adding an important point, which is that these laws can provide a covert way for departments to sabotage investigations so as to help out fellow officers, by introducing seemingly inadvertent errors that ensure that charges will later have to be thrown out.
In my opinion, conservatives should no more defend LEOBRs than they should defend teacher tenure laws, and for much the same reasons. In response to rising criticism, which has intensified since Gray’s death in custody, police unions have begun a broad effort to shore up support for the laws. The version of my article at FEE, for example, drew a response from a Montgomery County Fraternal Order of Police official which you can read here together with my response.
One oft-heard claim that these laws merely give suspected cops the same rights as other suspected citizens. Don’t miss Ken White’s new post at Popehat blowing that argument to smithereens. Equally laughable is the suggestion from union brass that the laws merely put into effect Fifth Amendment or other constitutional rights. While a few cases from the Warren Court era did invent new constitutional constraints on public agencies’ handling of employee investigations, LEOBR laws go far beyond anything in those cases.
Further reading and listening: Ed Krayewski, Reason; Kojo Nnamdi show; New York Times “Room for Debate” roundtable with Prof. Paul Butler, my friend and former Manhattan Institute colleague Heather Mac Donald (the middle-of-the-roader, in this context) and FOP’s Chuck Canterbury. See also my coverage of correctional officers “bill of rights” laws in Maryland, Pennsylvania, etc. here, here, here, and here.
Our friends at the Institute for Justice have recently gone public with a beta version of what had been an internal newsletter, called Short Circuits, providing condensed (and sometimes acidulous) summaries of cases out of the federal courts of appeals. You can subscribe here. One of recent interest:
WMATA, a transit agency that serves the greater D.C. area, fires two police officers. (One allegedly struck a passenger and lied about it. The other allegedly altercated with a companion and lied about it.) Arbitrators order the pair reinstated, but by then their Maryland certification has lapsed, and, after the transit police chief voices strenuous opposition to their recertification, Maryland commissioners refuse to recertify the two. WMATA can’t have uncertified officers, so they are fired again. 4th Circuit: Which is cool.