- 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).
Baylen Linnekin asked several food policy wonks what they thought were last year’s and next year’s biggest food stories, and here is part of my reply:
The troubles at Chipotle (whose food I like and buy, despite its dumb anti-GMO stance) brought home two points: local and handmade and every other good thing bring real tradeoffs, and food hazards aren’t just the result of moral laxity fixable by replacing “them” with educated idealists like “us.”
I also predicted that food commentator Mark Bittman, often criticized in this space, would find few takers for his notion of carding kids who want to buy a Coke. Read the whole thing here, and unrelatedly, if you are interested in food issues, check out this Russ Roberts interview with outstanding food scholar Rachel Laudan (earlier).
My local paper, the Frederick News-Post, ran an editorial on Monday that 1) saw nothing especially wrong in the Environmental Protection Agency’s illegally expending tax money to stir up pressure on Congress to support a wider interpretation of EPA power; 2) claimed that the fuss over tax-paid lobbying was for lack of any substantive critique of EPA’s “WOTUS” (Waters of the United States) rule, although a majority of states have challenged that rule, the farm and rural landowner communities have been up in arms against it all year, and a federal appeals court has agreed to stay it.
So I wrote this letter in response, which ran today. There wasn’t space for me to dispute the FNP’s peculiar notion that to oppose the water rule as exceeding the EPA’s statutory authority is to encourage the “anti-science, climate change denial crowd,” which tends to reinforce my sense that “anti-science” and “climate denial” are turning into all-purpose epithets increasingly unhooked from any particular relationship to science or climate. (cross-posted at Free State Notes)
Few books of our own era would make it onto my desert island list; one is Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers. While I’m late getting to Michael Lewis’s new profile of Wolfe, it’s reason enough to renew a Vanity Fair subscription, especially the priceless story of how Wolfe rewrote his dissertation on status jockeying among 1930s literary leftists after Yale turned it down as “tendentious” and “disparaging” to its oft-lionized subjects.
Early in my time at the Manhattan Institute, after Wolfe’s New York novel The Bonfire of the Vanities had made a gigantic popular success, I put together a roundtable on “Today and Tomorrow in Tom Wolfe’s New York” with Terry Teachout, Richard Vigilante, the late Walter Wriston, and others. MI published it as an envelope stuffer one-off with, if memory serves, a cover letter in which Wolfe himself mentioned observations the various participants had made, but in his own words. Not to say I was awe-struck at this, but for the next few days I wandered the streets of New York talking to the trees.
I’ve got a letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post. An excerpt:
The Dec. 11 Metro article “Baltimore eviction rate among highest in nation” reported on advocates’ efforts to change eviction procedures to allow Baltimore tenants to stay longer in rental housing even when they fail to pay their rent. One effect, of course, would be to make it even less attractive to offer and maintain rental properties in the hard-hit city.
Before going farther down such a road, it would help to review failures of existing Maryland housing policies….
And then I talk about Maryland lawmakers’ having enacted various legal changes to slow down foreclosures, and the unpleasant aftermath, a story told here. Why would a state want to go through a very similar wasteful, blight-encouraging exercise for rental property? (cross-posted from Free State Notes)