Posts tagged as:

Wisconsin

April 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 15, 2014

  • “Nullification” a non-starter, but states do have ways to resist federal encroachment [Amy Pomeroy, Libertas Utah, with podcast] Passport to Baraboo? State GOP resolutions committee backs “Wisconsin’s right, under extreme circumstances, to secede.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
  • Flawed forensics: “DUI expert pleads no contest to perjury charges, gets house arrest and probation” [PennLive]
  • “Insurance: The Musical” turned out to be an April Fool’s, a pity since I was looking forward to the actuary production number [Insurance Journal, but see (David Skurnick, "Cut My Rate," set in California Insurance Department) and more ("The Sting")]
  • Executive power grab? New F.H. Buckley book on “The Rise of Crown Government in America” [Tyler Cowen, with Canada comparison]
  • My appearance on Anne Santos’s radio show discussing lawsuit culture [KNTH]
  • If General Motors objects to direct consumer sales freedom for Tesla, perhaps the answer is to set GM free too [Dan Crane, Truth on the Market; James Surowiecki/New Yorker, Adam Hartung via Stephen Bainbridge]
  • James Maxeiner on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure after 75 years [Common Good]

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Politics roundup

by Walter Olson on April 11, 2014

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Caleb Brown interviews me for this new Cato podcast on a knotty question: when should a state attorney general decline to argue in court in defense of a law he thinks unconstitutional? On the one hand, the legal profession’s norms strongly favor giving every client and cause its day in court, and practical dysfunction might result were cases routinely handed over to others to defend or dropped entirely. On the other hand, attorneys general like other officials take an oath of office to the constitution, which calls in doubt whether they should (or even may) use their skills on behalf of unconstitutional measures. Complicating matters: how should unconstitutionality be assessed, by way of the AG’s own judgment, by way of predicting how the highest relevant court would rule, or by some other method? What kind of difference should it make whether the assessment appears certain, very probable, or more ambiguous than that?

In recent weeks about a half-dozen Democratic AGs around the country have declined to defend their states’ bans on same-sex marriage, on the grounds that they are inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision of last year, while other AGs both Republican and Democratic have argued in defense of those laws. (Today, Kentucky’s attorney general announced that he will not appeal a federal court ruling requiring the state to recognize out-of-state marriages, although the state’s governor is stepping in to do so.) Finding either liberals or conservatives who have preserved entirely consistent positions on the issue, though, is not always easy. Former attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, a strong conservative, declined to defend a state education reform law last year, while in 2011 Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen declined to defend a state domestic partnership registry they deemed unconstitutional. In a case like the latter it was liberals who tended to criticize the refusal to defend a law, and conservatives who applauded — patterns that to some extent have been reversed this time around.

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January 17 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 17, 2014

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Ethics roundup

by Walter Olson on December 10, 2013

  • Wilkes-Barre, Pa.: “one of the most egregious cases of attorney theft of clients’ escrow funds that I have seen” [ABA Journal]
  • Chamber cheers Wisconsin for enacting strongest sunshine law for state hiring of outside contingency-fee lawyers [U.S. Chamber/Business Wire]
  • Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s contributions on professional responsibility and the role of the legal profession [Steven Hobbs, SSRN]
  • “Mississippi Supreme Court sanctions judge for refusing to step aside in asbestos suit” [ Walter L. Cofer, Greg Fowler and Simon Castley, Lexology]
  • Alameda County ex-judge gets 5 years of probation in theft from elderly neighbor [ABA Journal, earlier here, etc.]
  • Study: Wisconsin high court justices tend to side with attorney donors [Fed Soc Blog]
  • Suit by Garlock claims misconduct by opposing asbestos lawyers including concealment of exposure and implantation of memories [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine, related] A Lone Star State asbestos litigation revival? [Eric Lasker and Richard Faulk, WLF]

A secret special prosecutor wielding “kitchen-sink” subpoenas takes aim at persons and groups who supported Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his recent showdown with public employee unions. “The probe began in the office of Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, though no one will publicly claim credit for appointing Mr. Schmitz, the special prosecutor. The investigation is taking place under Wisconsin’s John Doe law, which bars a subpoena’s targets from disclosing its contents to anyone but his attorneys. … [Wisconsin Club for Growth director Eric O'Keefe] adds that at least three of the targets had their homes raided at dawn, with law-enforcement officers turning over belongings to seize computers and files.” [WSJ "Review and Outlook"]

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Labor and employment roundup

by Walter Olson on September 13, 2013

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According to Ed Schulze, an employee of the Society of St. Francis animal shelter in Kenosha, Wisconsin, nine state agents and four deputy sheriffs were “armed to the teeth” and appeared “like a SWAT team” when they descended without warning on the shelter two weeks ago. Their target? A fawn that shelter employees had rescued and planned to release into a wildlife preserve the next day. Possession of wildlife is unlawful in Wisconsin, and officials proceeded to euthanize (kill) the juvenile deer. [WISN]

Asked later why the action was staged as a surprise raid, supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer told WISN, “If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up.”

Much of the reaction to this story concentrates on sympathy for the deer, which is understandable, but please spare some thought for what happens to humans when such police conduct comes to be accepted as normal. Our coverage of Radley Balko’s new book on police militarization, Rise of the Warrior Cop, is here, here, here, etc.

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May 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 2, 2013

For a second time, labor unions and their allies have failed to unseat a member of the majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which badly undercuts their chances of getting the court to invalidate Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10. I’ve got details at Cato at Liberty.

March 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 22, 2013

  • $10 million judgment “won’t hit Albuquerque property owners on their tax bills because it’ll come out of [city's] self-insurance fund” Say what? [Albuquerque Journal via Ed Krayewski, Reason]
  • Latest Bloomberg scheme: ban display of tobacco products [Jacob Sullum, Patrick at Popehat, Patrick Basham/Daily Caller, Ira Stoll, Elie Mystal/Above the Law]
  • Female? Hispanic? Planted a backyard garden between 1981-2000, while wishing you could have gone bigger with the hobby? Feds’ ag-bias settlement may have bucks for you [James Bovard/WSJ, earlier on Pigford black-farmer settlement here, here, here, etc.]
  • Newly published, includes blurb by me: Mark White, The Manipulation of Choice: Ethics and Libertarian Paternalism [Amazon]
  • “NYC adopts nation’s toughest law against refusing to hire unemployed” [AP, earlier here, etc.]
  • Estate of judge is suing prominent Philadelphia class action lawyer over fall at party in home [Legal Intelligencer]
  • For Wisconsin’s left, Roggensack/Fallone judicial contest might be the last hope for derailing Gov. Walker’s labor reform [Rick Esenberg]

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  • Seventh Circuit upholds Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s public sector labor law reform [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
  • In theory, California workers fired for cause aren’t entitled to unemployment compensation. In practice… [Coyote]
  • Comstockery meets occupational licensure: how New York’s Cabaret Law tripped up Billie Holiday [Bryan Caplan]
  • New Jersey lawmakers move to cut nonunion workers out of Hurricane Sandy recovery jobs [Jersey Journal]
  • Cheer up, plaintiff’s bar, you’re doing very well these days out of FLSA wage-and-hour actions [Max Kennerly]
  • Back to “spiking”: “CalPERS planning to gut a key cost-control provision of new pension law” [Daniel Borenstein, Contra Costa Times] When government negotiates with public sector unions over pay, the process should be transparent to taxpayers and the public [Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute]
  • Sacre bleu! Labor law reform reaches France [NYT]

With a new law, Vernon County, Wisconsin has put itself at the forefront of attempts to regulate disparaging email, online chat, blogs, Facebook posts (specifically cited by one advocate at a hearing), and Twitter. The law seems to be a product of the media hype over “cyberbullying.” [Popehat, Volokh]

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Labor and employment roundup

by Walter Olson on September 25, 2012

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The Toronto Globe and Mail prints my letter to the editor correcting some misrepresentations of U.S. labor law by Canadian Auto Workers union economist Jim Stanford. The text of the letter as it ran, slightly abridged, in the paper:

Jim Stanford says that in the 23 states with “right to work” laws, unions are “effectively prohibited; indeed, in right-to-work states, private-sector unionism is virtually non-existent” (Wisconsin’s Disease Crosses The Border – July 3).

This would come as a surprise to millions of employees in those 23 states who join and are represented at their workplace by unions. In Alabama, for example, which has had a right-to-work law since 1953, 183,000 workers (about 11 per cent of the labour force) are represented by unions, including 84,000 workers in the private sector. (source)

Emboldened or otherwise, Republicans in the states have no authority to alter the 1935 Wagner Act or other federal laws. In states like Wisconsin, they have sought to alter laws prevailing in about two-thirds of states that prescribe collective bargaining by public employees; these laws are of much more recent vintage than the New Deal, often dating to the 1960-85 period. Given Franklin Roosevelt’s well-documented skepticism toward collective bargaining by government employees, it is no surprise that he did not see fit to build any such element into his New Deal.

Walter Olson, senior fellow, the Cato Institute, Washington

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  • Gov. Walker’s public sector labor reforms popular with Wisconsin voters, and have saved taxpayers a fortune [Morrissey, Fund, Marquette poll (public favors new law by 50-43 margin] What would FDR say? [Dalmia, The Daily]
  • “Why you should stop attending diversity training” [Suzanne Lucas, CBS MarketWatch, following up on our earlier post]
  • The gang that couldn’t regulate straight: “Court rebuffs Labor Department on sales rep overtime” [Dan Fisher, Forbes] Lack of quorum trips up NLRB on “quickie”/ambush elections scheme [Workplace Prof]
  • Not all claimed “gun rights” are authentic, some come at expense of the vital principle of at-will employment [Bainbridge]
  • Brace yourself, legal academics at work on a Restatement of Employment Law [Michael Fox]
  • “Why Delaware’s Proposed Workplace Privacy Act Is All Wrong” [Molly DiBianca]
  • USA Today on lawyers’ role in growth of Social Security disability rolls [Ira Stoll]

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Another infuriating extension of asset forfeiture law. [Radley Balko, Huffington Post]

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Mitt Romney, following a long tradition of GOP candidates unable or unwilling to resist the continued expansion of employment discrimination law, has pre-emptively blessed Congress’s 2009 enactment of the ill-advised Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act gutting statutes of limitation. Hans Bader offers reasons why he should consider drawing the line. [Examiner] More: Ted Frank.

Related: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs bill repealing duplicative damages law passed by his Democratic predecessors, thus contradicting the accepted narrative in which the scope of available damages in job-bias suits is supposed to be revisable only in an upward direction.

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