I take a dim view of the doings of the Riyadh regime, but it’s bonkers to let US-Saudi relations stand or fall on the skill of random trial lawyers. A bill under consideration in Congress would bring such a day closer by stripping sovereign immunity protection from foreign countries in suits alleging responsibility for terror attacks on U.S. soil. It is the executive branch exercising its foreign relations powers that should have the final word on such responsibility; the U.S. State Department opposes the legislation. [Tim Worstall, Forbes]
- Unbowed by terror: interview with heroic Danish editor Flemming Rose [Simon Cottee/The Atlantic]
- “If The Left Had Its Way On Citizens United, ‘Funny Or Die’ Would Not Be Allowed To Ridicule Trump” [Luke Wachob, Independent Journal]
- Justice Department considers push for law criminalizing support of domestic terror groups [Reuters] Per federally funded police-support center, possible indicators of “extremist and disaffected individuals” include display of “Don’t Tread on Me” flag [Jesse Walker, Reason]
- U.S. BigLaw firm Squire Patton Boggs represents Venezuela as it tries to shut down U.S.-published DolarToday for publishing data about inflation [Jim Wyss/Miami Herald, Cyrus Farivar/Ars Technica, earlier here, etc.]
- When scandal broke about IRS targeting of opposing groups, even President Obama talked about accountability. After press attention waned came refusal to press charges, whitewash, denial [Glenn Reynolds, USA Today]
- Bad, bad bar: behind recent rise in blasphemy prosecutions in Pakistan is a lawyers’ group [Reuters]
Read deep enough into this very long New York Times report, and you learn that Air France has been stymied from dismissing some employees it suspects of Islamic radicalization because “individuals were often able to successfully challenge such dismissals in French labor courts”:
Guillaume Pepy, the head of SNCF, the French national railway operator, recently conceded that the country’s anti-terrorist services had alerted the company — which employs 50,000 people — to as many as 10 employees in the last year whom they suspected of having ties to Islamist groups. But rather than fire the employees and risk a costly discrimination suit, Mr. Pepy told a French radio in January that it was SNCF’s policy to ensure that the individuals were not allowed to be train drivers or signal operators or to hold other positions that could pose a security threat.
Other tensions in religious accommodation law:
…At certain bus depots, [a labor union official] said, some male employees wouldn’t take the wheel of a vehicle that had been previously driven by a woman.
“Rather than report the behavior to the authority’s human resource managers, Mr. Salmon said that supervisors simply adjusted the drivers’ schedules and routes to avoid handoffs between women and men. In one case, Mr. Salmon said, a woman who lived within walking distance of her depot asked to be transferred to a job across town rather than stay and continue to endure the harassment….
It’s precisely the employees managers are afraid of who may fare best in winning accommodation:
Paradoxically, [the director of a research institute] said, it is often the employees most open to dialogue who are the first to be pressed to adapt their religious practices, while more troubling behavior is sometimes allowed to continue unchallenged for fear of escalating the problem.
“Radical people make some managers nervous, and so they leave them alone,” Mr. Honoré said.
“Can Apple be forced to hack its own iPhones? … This week, the FBI obtained a court order demanding Apple’s help breaking into the iPhone used by [San Bernardino terrorist] Syed Rizwan Farook.” My Cato colleague Julian Sanchez has an introduction to the case at the New York Post. More: Nicholas Weaver/LawFare, Brad Reed/BGR, Sanchez Cato podcast.
- To what extent should law schools pursue missions other than that of training lawyers to practice competently? [Ken at Popehat]
- Survivors of woman slain in terror attack seek $200 million from county of San Bernardino [Courthouse News] A pertinent 2001 Elizabeth Cabraser quote about terrorism and litigation: “If we sue each other, the terrorists win. We need to be united.”
- Self-driving car revolution is coming quickly, but there might still be time for feds to mess it up [Randal O’Toole]
- “NYT throws hissy-fit, sues over use of thumbnails in critical book” [Rebecca Tushnet via Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
- New laws from Brussels could endanger thousands of historic guns in British museums [Telegraph]
- Drawing on the organization’s entire moral authority, i.e. none at all, United Nations panel calls for U.S. to pay slavery reparations [Independent, Vice]
- Aviary Attorney: “The hottest bird lawyering game to come out of 1840s France!” [Steampowered via Lowering the Bar]
Say, how about letting random juries in sympathetic damages cases determine the boundaries of free speech? Twitter “is being sued by the widow of an American killed in Jordan… [Tamara Fields] said Twitter knowingly let the militant Islamist group use its network to spread propaganda, raise money and attract recruits.” [Reuters]
- “Charlie Hebdo editor: Censorship must not win” [Charb/New York Post] Today, on anniversary of that attack, Cato hosts free speech attorney Robert Corn-Revere on “The Assassin’s Veto,” with comments from GWU lawprof Catherine Ross, moderated by John Samples [details, and watch live]
- Florida lawmakers muzzle doctors’ comments to patients regarding guns. 11th Circuit says okay. No, not okay [Ken White, Eugene Volokh]
- The ‘speech integral to criminal conduct’ exception, important in early free speech law, has come roaring back [Eugene Volokh; for the role of this doctrine in the Oregon cake case, see my post then and his]
- Good news if you’re a Wisconsin conservative who forgot to archive your emails: that nice John Doe prosecutor secretly did it for you [Watchdog]
- From Federalist Society national lawyers’ convention, Prof. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz interviews Kirsten Powers on her new book The Silencing (wobbly audio in early minutes, which eventually clears);
- “Ex-tenant barred from saying that ex-landlord had been in the Witness Protection Program, ‘[r]egardless of the truth or falsity of this information'” [Volokh]
- Lawprof Eric Posner wants to roll back First Amendment to curb ISIS recruitment. Hell, no [ABA Journal, Anthony Fisher/Reason, Ken White/Popehat]
My take on the Oregon standoff, this morning at The Federalist:
As my Cato Institute colleague Randal O’Toole skillfully explained, none of the protagonists in the Oregon standoff really deserve our admiration: the Hammond ranching family misbehaved, the federal government overcharged, and then the Bundy cranks arrived to spray kerosene on the glowing embers….
Unlawful protest occupations of public places and government buildings have long been a familiar part of American public life, and even those not involving arms sometimes have rather serious consequences for the health and well-being of innocent bystanders….
In the ordinary calculations of humanity, events like Waco and Ruby Ridge and the Philadelphia MOVE bombing represent a grotesque failure. Despite the spirit of the mob and the ever-present temptation to shoot first, most such situations in our country are resolved with legal consequences for the wrongdoers but not with loss of life and limb. We should be glad of that.
Read the whole thing here. I’ve covered the earlier Bundy Nevada standoff in this space, as well as the wider phenomenon I call folk law. For more coverage of occupations, blockades, and acts of physical intimidation that were resolved without bloodshed (and sometimes without later legal consequences to those who broke the law) see our tag on selective law non-enforcement, including this from 2011 about how some cheered when unionized Wisconsin police announced solidarity with protesters occupying the state capitol and refused orders to oust them.
More: Randal O’Toole has a new post up on the Hammonds’ actions and punishment.
- Trying to buy gift cards in bulk as an employee bonus, Coyote discovers anew that the government hates cash;
- Initial public offerings are drooping again, regulation one reason [Thaya Knight, Cato]
- A dissent from the lamentations, here and elsewhere, on the decline of small community banks [Ira Stoll] “Fed’s Tarullo says looking into smaller banks’ concerns” [Business Insider]
- Berned out? Financial transactions tax “one of the more overrated ideas in American Progressive political discourse” [Tyler Cowen, Wikipedia on Sweden’s experience via @aClassicLiberal on Twitter] And Sen. Sanders continues to express incredulity on Twitter about college loans’ carrying higher interest than home mortgages do, despite attempts to enlighten him on the whole topic of secured lending and collateral [@tedfrank]
- Video of Federalist Society convention panel on constitutionality of administrative law judges at SEC and elsewhere with John S. Baker, Jr., Stephen Crimmins, Todd Pettys, Tuan Samahon, moderated by F. Scott Kieff;
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ban on contractual arbitration will help class action lawyers, few others [Todd Zywicki, Mercatus]
- “How US policies to stop terrorist financing end up hurting innocent families abroad” [Dylan Matthews, Vox] Money laundering regs, “de-risking” result in many bank closures in U.S.-Mexico border areas, hassles result for local residents and businesses [Kevin Funnell]
“Fearing a civil liberties backlash and ‘bad public relations’ for the Obama administration, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson refused in early 2014 to end a secret U.S. policy that prohibited immigration officials from reviewing the social media messages of all foreign citizens applying for U.S. visas, a former senior department official said.” According to former acting DHS undersecretary John Cohen, political “optics” inhibited U.S. officials from the fully legal course of checking the social media posts of visa applicants. The process came under scrutiny after the granting of a fiance visa to Tashfeen Malik, a resident of high-terror-risk Pakistan who had extensively discussed jihad and martyrdom online. [ABC News; but see below updates/corrections, which correct significant errors in the early reporting]
It’s important to keep straight that our Constitution restricts what the U.S. government can do to U.S. persons, but imposes little if any constraint on what it can ask of those seeking to enter.
P.S. Alex Nowrasteh talks with several immigration lawyers who say they know of instances in which social media postings by persons under U.S. immigration scrutiny got vetted. More: James Taranto (quoting New York Times’s statement that “immigration officials do not routinely review social media as part of their background checks,” with “pilot programs” to do so in place since the fall of last year).
Update: contradicting widespread reports in the press, FBI Director James Comey now describes the couple as having expressed jihadist sentiment in private but not in public messages on social media [Washington Post] And the New York Times now apologizes for early, erroneous reporting based on anonymous sources which misled much of the press and commentariat into believing Malik’s extremist sentiments were in plain sight.