Another unanimous loss for Obama, another trip to the dunking booth for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: my new Cato post on last week’s Supreme Court decision on the proper standard for awarding attorneys’ fees to prevailing defendants in Title VII employment discrimination cases. Justice Thomas has it right in his concurrence: the ruling at hand is all well and good, but the Court needs to go further and rethink precedents that bend over backward to give prevailing employment plaintiffs a set of fee entitlements that it does not allow to prevailing defendants (& welcome SCOTUSBlog readers).
Welcome to Thomas Perez’s new on-the-clock white-collar workplace, in which employers will be under the legal gun to monitor lunch breaks, revoke permission to telecommute, disallow “comp time” setups allowing a day with the kids, and forbid email or company-cellphone use after business hours. I’ve got a link-heavy new post at Cato surveying the damage after the Department of Labor’s final adoption of its new overtime rules, much criticized already in this space. The press is already reporting on the business consequences.
Do you think Donald Trump is the first U.S. politico to menace publishers over bad coverage? Not even close. My new Cato piece cites a few examples from a depressingly long history. Plus: reprinted at Newsweek.
Bonus: Sen. Sherman Minton (D-Ind.) who put forth the remarkable proposal to make it “a crime to publish anything as a fact anything known to be false,” and who had led a Senate committee’s investigation of the Gannett newspaper chain over its (then) Republican-leaning politics, was later nominated by President Harry Truman to be an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served for seven years and became a leading exponent of judicial deference to the executive branch.
I’ve got a new piece at Ricochet on the Food and Drug Administration’s just-announced measures against vaping (e-cigarettes), which will drastically restrict and maybe even ban a popular option for smokers seeking to quit the cigarette habit. It’s not just an assault on individual choice and commercial freedom — it could wind up killing people. Read it here.
Relatedly, Andrew Stuttaford thinks I am too kind in describing CDC director Thomas Frieden as in denial about the prospective health benefits when smokers switch to vaping. And thank you to Andrew for describing Overlawyered as “must-read”.
P.S. Faced with two options on how to regulate premium cigars, FDA chose the harsher, of course [HalfWheel, Jacob Grier (“The market for cigars is about to become a lot less diverse and a lot more boring.”)]
More: I’ve got a piece up at Cato now on winners and losers from the FDA’s move. Plus, a new Jacob Sullum column: “The FDA’s deadly e-cigarette regulations.” And a Washington Post editorial defends the agency’s action on a for-the-children rationale, yet says not a word about the precipitous plunge in youth smoking rates and only refers in passing to the issue of harm reduction.
- Disparage at thy peril: three Democratic lawmakers demand FTC investigation of private group that purchased $58,000 in ads disparaging CFPB, a government agency [ABC News] So many politicos targeting their opponents’ speech these days [Barton Hinkle]
- A pattern we’ve seen over the years: promoting himself as outspoken social conservative, trial lawyer running for chairman of Republican Party of Texas [Mark Pulliam, SE Texas Record]
- Some of which goes to union political work: “Philly Pays $1.5 Million to ‘Ghost Teachers'” [Evan Grossman, Pennsylvania Watchdog via Jason Bedrick]
- “However objectionable one might find Trump’s rhetoric, the [event-disrupting] protesters are in the wrong.” [Bill Wyman/Columbia Journalism Review, earlier]
- Hillary Clinton’s connections to Wal-Mart go way back, and hooray for that [Ira Stoll and column]
- I went out canvassing GOP voters in Maryland before the primary. Here’s what they told me. [Ricochet]
Scalia for the general reader: my new piece briefly explains his textualism, originalism, and rules jurisprudence [American Media Institute Newswire, syndicated] And in a new Cato Podcast, Caleb Brown interviews Tim Lynch and me about the Justice’s legacy in the areas of criminal law, regulation, and administrative law:
In his long battle against vagueness in defining crimes, Justice Antonin Scalia was a true hero of liberty and the rule of law. Harvey Silverglate discusses that here.
“My own anecdote about Justice Scalia is that he once hired me for my dream job because I wouldn’t stop arguing with him.” I set down a few recollections about the great man which are up now at The Daily Beast.
The dream job in question was to help with the editing of Regulation magazine, which in its early years was a project of the American Enterprise Institute (it’s at Cato now). I remember well the magazine’s publication of the classic debate between Antonin Scalia and Richard Epstein on the proper role of the courts in protecting economic liberty, itself based on an “Economic Liberties and the Constitution” conference sponsored by the Cato Institute. By that point Scalia had departed as editor of the magazine and was a judge on the D.C. Circuit, while Epstein continued to teach law at the University of Chicago, where he had been Scalia’s colleague. Scalia begins his piece thus:
I recall from the earliest days of my political awareness Dwight Eisenhower’s demonstrably successful slogan that he was “a conservative in economic affairs, but a liberal in human affairs.” I am sure he meant it to connote nothing more profound than that he represented the best of both Republican and Democratic tradition. But still, that seemed to me a peculiar way to put it — contrasting economic affairs with human affairs as though economics is a science developed for the benefit of dogs or trees; something that has nothing to do with human beings, with their welfare, aspirations, or freedoms.
Archives of Regulation magazine are here. During his editorship (which lasted until 1982), Scalia wrote many pieces both signed and unsigned, and his contributions to the unsigned front part of the magazine can often be identified once you know to look for his distinctive style (often there was one such piece per issue). I was at the magazine from its first 1981 through its last 1985 issue.
More: Earlier here. And I’ve adapted this (with some additional historical material) into a new Cato post, to which Nick Zaiac, Peter Van Doren, and Thomas Firey add a second post analyzing some of Scalia’s signed articles for the magazine during his tenure. I remember that his irreverent cover essay “The Freedom of Information Act Has No Clothes” was the one I most worried some senator would wave about to oppose his confirmation, but nothing of the sort happened. In it he wrote, of FOIA, “It is the Taj Mahal of the Doctrine of Unanticipated Consequences, the Sistine Chapel of Cost- Benefit Analysis Ignored.”
The Cato Policy Report invited holiday book recommendations from various people associated with Cato. Here is my contribution:
Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow
In the picture book Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow (1910), little Pelle needs new clothes and begins by shearing wool from the pet lamb he takes care of. He asks his grandmother to card it and she agrees if he will weed her carrot patch. His other grandmother will spin the carded wool into yarn if he will look after her cows in the meantime. The painter says that while paint is no good for coloring yarn, if Pelle will fetch him some turpentine he happens to need from the general store, he can use the change to buy a packet of dye. So Pelle rows off to accomplish that task (yes, rows; this is Sweden, and they might all just live in an archipelago). Amid delicate drawings of village life, this is first a lesson in doing chores with a willing hand, but also a gentle parable in production, exchange, and the division of labor, which includes domestic labor (one of his tasks is to babysit his little sister). At the end, Pelle rejoices in a new suit made by the labor of others — and which he has fully earned.
Can a defendant in a class action moot the whole proceeding by offering the named plaintiff the full value of his claim, thus “picking him off”? No, or at least not in the case at hand in Campbell-Ewald v. Gomez, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday by a 6-3 margin. I discuss the case in a new post at Cato. More, Alison Frankel/Reuters, Howard Wasserman/Prawfs; earlier here and here]
Some serious constitutional conservatives, such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Rob Natelson for the American Legislative Exchange Council, have been promoting the idea of getting two-thirds of the states to call for an Article V convention to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Florida senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio recently made headlines by endorsing the notion. But I don’t think it’s a good one, as I argue in this new piece for the Daily Beast (the clickbait headline is theirs, not mine). It begins:
In his quest to catch the Road Runner, the Coyote in the old Warner Brothers cartoons would always order supplies from the ACME Corporation, but they never performed as advertised. Either they didn’t work at all, or they blew up in his face.
Which brings us to the idea of a so-called Article V convention assembled for the purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution, an idea currently enjoying some vogue at both ends of the political spectrum.
Jacob Sullum at Reason offers a quick tour of some of the better and worse planks in Abbott’s “Texas Plan” (as distinct from the question of whether a convention is the best way of pursuing them). Much more: Thomas Neale, Congressional Research Service report, 2014. (cross-posted, with some additions, at Cato at Liberty).