Posts Tagged ‘WO writings’

My adventures in redistricting reform

What the reform panel is proposing is about as far removed from party bosses as feasible. …. one thing is clear, the commission is headed in the proper direction.

Baltimore Sun editorial, November 2

Gerrymandering is rife across the country, resulting in artificially drawn districts intended to protect or defeat certain incumbents, maximize one party’s share of power, or achieve other political goals. My own state of Maryland suffers from a famously awful Congressional gerrymander, including the notorious District 3, compared with a “broken-winged pterodactyl” or the blood splatters from a crime scene.

I’ve had a chance to do something about this problem over the past three months as co-chair of the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission, created by Gov. Larry Hogan in August to gather information and draft recommendations for a new and better way of doing things. Following public hearings, testimony from experts and considerable research, we filed our report with the governor on Tuesday.

Len Lazarick at Maryland Reporter sums up some of the key points. If enacted, our plan would make Maryland the only state in which elected legislators and the governor would no say at all — zero — in deciding who should sit on a line-drawing commission. Our plan follows several elements of California’s ground-breaking plan, including screening of volunteers and randomized pools, simplified and adapted to the circumstances of our smaller state. In addition to requiring congruence with county and city boundaries where possible, contiguity, and compactness, we would join a very few states in instructing the drafters of lines to ignore partisan indicators such as voter registration and past voting results, as well as the place of residence of incumbents or any other person.

Full report here. Some more coverage: Carroll County Times editorial; Naomi Eide, Capital News Service; Josh Hicks, Washington Post; Erin Cox, Baltimore Sun; Fox Baltimore; Jen Fifield, Frederick News-Post (this last quoting me at length, and see also this profile in August).

City Journal at 25 — and alternate-side-of-the-street parking

Twenty-five years ago the Manhattan Institute, with which I was affiliated for many years, launched its extremely successful periodical City Journal. (Longtime editor Myron Magnet, now editor-at-large, has an account here of some of its triumphs.)

The very first issue had a piece from me on alternate side of the street parking. Contributors to that first issue, under founding editor Richard Vigilante, included William Tucker, Rick Brookhiser, Terry Teachout, Carolyn Lochhead, Mark Cunningham, Peter Salins, Rupert Murdoch (!), and others. My work appeared in City Journal most recently this summer with a profile of the work of Eric Schneiderman as New York attorney general (“Inspector Gotcha”) and you can read all of my contributions to the magazine here, on topics ranging from the case against slavery reparations to the struggle between Westchester County and HUD.

Congratulations to this excellent magazine as it enters its second quarter century under editor Brian Anderson.

Assault on police: the newest hate crime?

The town of Red Wing, Minnesota, has passed a resolution urging that assaults on police be made a hate crime, a position urged for some years by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) union. How bad an idea is this? A very bad one indeed, I argue in an op-ed for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Critics argue that [existing hate-crime] laws in effect play favorites, departing from the spirit of equal protection under law that aims at treating all victims of personal assault as equally important.

Because they seem to put an official public seal on a narrative of oppression, such laws are also lobbied for in me-too fashion by other groups that rightly or wrongly see themselves as oppressed….

Not only are lethal assaults on police declining, I note, but the vast majority of them do not arise from any supposed prejudice or animus against cops, nor do such crimes go neglected and unprosecuted. Besides, most states already allow sentence enhancements on other grounds for crimes against police:

…what would [such a change in law] symbolize? The merely absurd proposition that police in the U.S. today are an oppressed minority group? Or the downright dangerous proposition that the law should step in to chastise and rectify the attitudes of a public that may not be as supportive of police wishes and demands as cop advocates would like?

Read the whole thing. Incidentally, the town council voted last week to let its Human Rights Commission review the resolution, a possible step toward reconsidering it. Some earlier Cato commentary on hate-crime laws hereherehere, and here. (cross-posted from Cato at Liberty).

More links: Star-Tribune original coverage (noting that Red Wing’s police chief approached the council requesting the resolution as a “show of support,” and that Minnesota already provides for sentence enhancements when police are the target of crimes, as indeed do most states); FBI on definition of hate crime; Fraternal Order of Police side of the case; Washington Post; U.S. News; New York Daily News.

To fit the crime: a social justice “Mikado”

The news that New York’s Gilbert & Sullivan Players have canceled a production of The Mikado because it was accused of purveying anti-Japanese stereotypes, and because there had been objections to Caucasian actors singing the parts, prompted me to write up a short piece in the new Weekly Standard on how the beloved operetta might be modernized for contemporary, social-justice-attuned ears:

So he decreed, in words succinct,
That all who flirted, leered, or winked,
Without consent-form double-inked,
Should forthwith be beheaded…

Correspondent Corey Bean contributed a verse:

My object all sublime
I shall erase the line —
Between micro-
aggressions and crime —
Between mere offense and crime;

The company for now is going to switch to a production of The Pirates of Penzance. “So now pirate-shaming is supposed to be okay?” Read the whole thing here.

My Newsweek piece on the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA)

A bill called the First Amendment Defense Act, or FADA, with many Republican sponsors, would establish a new protected class in discrimination law, enabling what might develop into a major new sector of litigation. It would bestow on advocates of putative traditional family values — but not their opposite thinkers — new legal rights to sue over adverse government treatment of any kind, including the withholding of subsidies, government contracts or indeed any other public action. The protected status would even extend to acts taken as public employees and clothed with official force. It’s an extraordinarily one-sided, wildly impractical set of proposals whose theme, I argue at Newsweek, is not pluralist accommodation but merely to empower one side, when wielding public authority or tax moneys, to engage in a wide range of punitive and coercive measures against their culture war opponents. And that has less than nothing to do with the First Amendment.

Whole piece here. Dale Carpenter at Volokh Conspiracy has some kind words for my piece along with thoughts about the possible constitutional infirmities of the draft bill’s blatant enlistment of government power on behalf of one viewpoint and set of beliefs as against others; he also links to this Christianity Today piece by three leading religious liberty scholars, Richard Garnett, John Inazu, and Michael McConnell, who acknowledge some of the problems with FADA in present form while urging support for a less sweeping measure (“We think the best approach is to tailor FADA to the core area of concern: religious nonprofits.”)

P.S.: Stephen Bainbridge reprints a letter in which I link and summarize some of my recent writing on religious accommodation.

Flight attendant: my religion entitles me to avoid serving liquor

New at Politico Europe, my piece on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint by a Muslim flight attendant, covered here last week, who doesn’t want to serve alcohol (“scruples about screwpulls”) and what, if anything, it has in common with the Kim Davis case. (As a direct legal matter, not much.) I reference the EEOC v. Star Transport case:

Here’s the thing: The EEOC has already sided with Muslim employees who wish to avoid handling alcohol….If Charee Stanley or a future counterpart someday wins the right to bob and weave through the passenger cabin, handing out only beverages that meet with her spiritual approval, she’ll have this record of Congressional posturing to thank.

Surprisingly or otherwise, the pressure for federal law to become more indulgent toward private employees’ demands for religious accommodation — thus turning cases like Stanley’s into more likely winners — has come both from liberal lawmakers like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton and from conservatives like Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal.

Related: “No one should have to choose between their career and religion,” proclaimed Stanley’s lawyer. Really? No one? Ever? [Andrew Stuttaford, Secular Right] My Cato colleague Ilya Shapiro on why West Coast florist Barronelle Stutzman is far more deserving of martyr status than Kim Davis (my two cents, leading to GoFundMe “campaign not found”). And dear #kimdavis meme-slingers: be advised that Dallas judges are under no legal obligation to do weddings [Taylor Millard, Hot Air]

“Are you showing contempt for this court?” “No, I’m doing my best to hide it.”

“Are you showing contempt for this court?” “No, I’m doing my best to hide it.” Mae West might get away with that attitude but Kentucky clerk Kim Davis can’t, as I explain in my (revised and expanded from last night’s post here) post at Cato. First paragraph:

Across the political landscape this morning, people on one side are discovering that lawlessness is bad, while people on the other are discovering that the machinery of our justice system is harsh. If experience is any guide, these lessons will last a lunchtime.

Whole thing here.

Supreme Court and constitutional law roundup

  • New York Times suggests Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinions borrow too much language from briefs and lower courts. Orin Kerr on why that’s unfair;
  • Prosecutors have too much leeway to request freeze on defendant’s assets pending trial [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
  • Certiorari petition arising from Newman/Chiasson prosecution: “Obama Administration Gambles On Supreme Court Review Of Insider-Trading Case” [Daniel Fisher]
  • “Another Chance To Clean Up ‘Trial by Formula’ Class Actions” [Andrew Grossman/Cato, SCOTUSBlog on Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo]
  • “Bench Memos” to the barricades: National Review builds case for “resistance” to Supreme Court decisions” [my two cents at Cato on rhetoric likening Obergefell to Dred Scott]
  • Media firms including Time, Meredith, Advance, NPR jump into Spokeo case before high court, warn of Fair Credit Reporting Act litigation “quagmire” [Media Post]
  • After a tainted-food episode, managers convicted without a showing of mens rea? Egg case deserves a closer look [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]

NLRB: we’re coming after franchisors and subcontractors

In a long-feared ruling, the Obama National Labor Relations Board has ruled that a company that employs subcontractors or engages in franchising can over a wide range of situations be deemed a “joint employer” for purposes of liability for labor law violations and obligation to bargain over wages and working conditions with subcontractors’ or franchisees’ work forces. The decision imperils many of the most successful business models on the American economic scene. I’ve got a write-up at Cato observing that the ruling is likely to wreak havoc with, among many other sector, Silicon Valley and sharing-economy launches and asking “One wonders whether many of the smart New Economy people who bought into the Obama administration’s promises really knew what they were buying.”

More coverage of the NLRB’s Browning-Ferris ruling: Reuters (quotes me on the not-bright prospects for Hill action); Seyfarth Shaw; Tim Devaney, The Hill; “Good week to change name of NLRB to National Labor Resuscitation Board.” [Jonathan Segal] And, from standpoints supportive of the ruling, Al-Jazeera and Prof. Catherine Fisk/On Labor.

P.S.: At the Weekly Standard, Andrew B. Wilson notes that Obama wage/hour czar David Weil doubles as a key ideologist of the kill-outsourcing crowd.