- News on legal policy front: Center for Class Action Fairness, founded and run by longtime Overlawyered co-blogger Ted Frank, merging into Competitive Enterprise Institute, Ted and all [CEI]
- Arnold Kling isn’t cheering Brookings Institution’s defenestration of well-known economist Robert Litan at Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s behest. More: Sean Higgins, John Fund;
- Proposed anti-soft-drink laws favored by Michael Bloomberg & Co. have been mostly shot down, but New York Times eager to credit politicians anyway for the drop [more: Jacob Sullum];
- We interrupt the campaign season propaganda-fest with news of an actual issue sighting, on regulatory reform [Ira Stoll, Veronique de Rugy on Jeb Bush plan] After Obama initiative to eliminate red tape, agencies added $14.7 billion in regulatory costs [Sam Batkins, American Action Forum]
- Qualified immunity: “Shooting a 68-Year-Old Who Poses No Threat Violates Clearly Established Law” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
- If you’ve read Steve Teles’s article on upward redistribution (as you should), read Michael Greve’s reaction and Ilya Somin‘s too;
- East Texas judge throws out 168 patent cases in one fell swoop [Joe Mullin/ArsTechnica, related on popularity of East Texas among trolls]
Complying with federal regulations costs Vanderbilt University $146 million a year, 11% of its overall expenses, the university estimates [Vanderbilt press release via Prof. Bainbridge]
Despite today’s polarized political atmosphere, it is possible to construct an ambitious and highly promising agenda of pro-growth policy reform that can command support across the ideological spectrum. Such an agenda would focus on policies whose primary effect is to inflate the incomes and wealth of the rich, the powerful, and the well-established by shielding them from market competition. A convenient label for these policies is “regressive regulation” — regulatory barriers to entry and competition that work to redistribute income and wealth up the socioeconomic scale. This paper identifies four major examples of regressive regulation: excessive monopoly privileges granted under copyright and patent law; restrictions on high-skilled immigration; protection of incumbent service providers under occupational licensing; and artificial scarcity created by land-use regulation.
[Charles Murray, author of the newly published By the People: Rebuilding Liberty without Permission] is quick to add that he is perfectly fine with a wide range of sensible regulations, and that only a narrow subset of regulations ought to be disobeyed, offering this rule of thumb: if the matter in question were to become a news story in the mass media, the vast majority of Americans would side with the rule-breaker. He offered the example of a bartender with whom he corresponded––she was fined $3,000 for failing to card a customer, and while he granted the legitimacy of requiring alcohol sellers to check the ages of customers, he felt it was unfair to fine the bartender in this particular situation as the customer was her father.
James Gattuso and Diane Katz at Heritage tote up some of the numbers on the Obama administration’s wave of regulation:
In its first six years, the Obama Administration imposed 184 major regulations on the private sector. That figure is more than twice the number imposed by the Bush Administration in its first six years….
Overall, the cost of new mandates and restrictions imposed by the Obama Administration now totals $78.9 billion annually. This is more than double the $30.7 billion in annual costs imposed at the same point in the George W. Bush Administration.
Much, much more is ahead, especially in areas like labor and employment, where the administration is pursuing a frankly unilateral course of legal changes that would never meet with approval if submitted as legislation to the present Congress.
- Ohio appeals court: code enforcement officers in town of Riverside can be personally liable for towing cars off man’s property without due process [The Newspaper; Vlcek v. Chodkowski, Second Appellate District, Montgomery County]
- “FDA’s proposed cigar crackdown could effectively ban up to 80% of stogies currently sold in US” [James Bovard, Washington Times; earlier here, here]
- Don’t decriminalize subway farebeating, says Nicole Gelinas, it’s a deliberate theft and a damaging one (though “enforcing the fare helps enforce New York gun laws” may not work as an argument unless you admire those gun laws) [New York Post]
- Lawyers take Fifth and (via their attorney) blame paralegal over DUI setup of a trial opponent [ABA Journal; Adams and Diaco, Florida]
- “The Questionable History of Regulatory Reform Since the APA” [Stuart Shapiro and Deanna Moran, Mercatus]
- Did American rebels of 1776 fight for English liberties, or universal Rights of Man? [David Boaz, Cato, taking issue with Daniel Hannan]
- “Appeals court scolds Apple monitor, but does not remove him” [Jeff John Roberts, Fortune; Eriq Gardner, THR; Colin Lecher, The Verge; earlier]
The crackdown on college grievance procedures by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) paved the way for such developments as the administrative panic at the University of Virginia following Rolling Stone’s bogus assault article. I’ve got some thoughts at Cato about how the OCR crackdown grows out of a type of federal agency power grab — rule by “Dear Colleague” letter, sometimes known as sub-regulatory guidance or stealth regulation — that did not begin with this issue. As federal agencies have learned how to wield broad regulatory power without having to go through the formal regulatory process with its legal protections for affected parties, the courts have begun to apply skeptical scrutiny — which could open up one avenue of challenging the federal guidelines. Earlier on subregulatory guidance/stealth regulation here, here, etc. More: related from John Graham and James Broughel, Mercatus.
Glenn Reynolds on overcriminalization and regulation [USA Today]:
Regulatory crimes” of this sort are incredibly numerous and a category that is growing quickly. They are the ones likely to trap unwary individuals into being felons without knowing it. That is why Michael Cottone, in a just-published Tennessee Law Review article, suggests that maybe the old presumption that individuals know the law is outdated, unfair and maybe even unconstitutional. “Tellingly,” he writes, “no exact count of the number of federal statutes that impose criminal sanctions has ever been given, but estimates from the last 15 years range from 3,600 to approximately 4,500.” Meanwhile, according to recent congressional testimony, the number of federal regulations (enacted by administrative agencies under loose authority from Congress) carrying criminal penalties may be as many as 300,000.
And it gets worse. While the old-fashioned common law crimes typically required a culpable mental state — you had to realize you were doing something wrong — the regulatory crimes generally don’t require any knowledge that you’re breaking the law. This seems quite unfair.