The New Eco Tyranny

N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks at a news conference in Manhattan with other state attorneys general to announce a states-based effort to combat climate change, March 29, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Last week, the attorneys general of 20 states met at a conference “dedicated to coming up with creative ways to enforce laws being flouted by the fossil fuel industry,” in the words of the conference’s host, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The environmental website Ecowatch called it “an unprecedented, multi-state effort to investigate and prosecute” oil companies that the AGs say “stymied attempts to combat global warming.”

Read More

The Dangers of an American Caste System

Barrier To Business

John Stuart Mill is a pretty complicated figure in the history of liberty. The phenomenon of Donald Trump is a pretty complicated development in American politics currently. Both had demanding fathers, successful professional careers, and an impact on the world around them, in ways intended and unintended. It’s doubtful Mr. Trump seriously thought he’d get this far as a candidate, and I wonder if Mill could have envisioned how much his contributions to the history of ideas would have promoted the growing rift between utilitarianism and liberalism.

Read More

Why the Left Favors Immigration but Opposes Trade

The American Left generally welcomes immigration, but opposes foreign trade. There are exceptions of course, but generally the further left one moves this combination of policy preferences is even starker. Bernie Sanders seems wholly opposed to free trade and yet favors immigration. Indeed, he wants to make citizens of immigrants, even if they have come here illegally.

What explains this divergence? It cannot plausibly be concern for low-wage workers in the United States. It is true that trade, while being generally beneficial, can depress the income of low-wage workers (at least in the short term), because they must compete more with low-skilled workers elsewhere. But the effect of low-skilled immigrants  is the same. It puts pressure on the wages of low-skilled Americans.

It can’t be concern for the poor abroad.

Read More



Among the intriguing AdLaw cases on the Supreme Court’s docket is U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes.  The Hawkes own some land 120 miles from the nearest navigable river, where they want to dig up peat moss. The feds think that this land is their land, or water. In any event, no. To figure out whether this or that parcel is actually water and thus subject to the feds’ jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act the Corps has created a process called a “Jurisdictional Determination” (“JD”), which involves expensive (for the enforcement target) fact-finding and then adjudication before an administrative body.

Read More

Brexit: Less There Than Meets the Eye

United Kingdom and European union flags combined for the 2016 referendum

In modern democracies, public discussion of the most momentous matters is bound to be reduced to what the political and media elites believe is the lowest common denominator.

Read More

Achieving Our Republican Greatness

Grunge ripped paper USA flag pattern

Writing in the Journal of American Greatness, Plautus, who is more intent on making Trump to be the candidate he wants, as opposed to the vulgar brute that he is, calls for a conservative nationalism with tremendous purpose whose chief goal will be the elimination of the “managerial class.”

Read More

Anti-Bullying or the Liberal Agenda?

In my last post, I discussed some of the reasons why one might question how well the schools are able to implement anti-bullying programs.

I genuinely don’t know how well government schools are doing in addressing bullying, but this story from New Jersey does not inspire confidence.  As discussed by Eugene Volokh, a sixth grader was found to have committed prohibited “harassment, intimidation or bullying” when he told a classmate that “it’s not good to not eat meat” and that “he should eat meat because he’d be smarter and have bigger brains,” and that “vegetarians are idiots.”

The decision, which was upheld on appeal to an ALJ, appears to have accurately applied the New Jersey statute, which defined “Harassment, intimidation or bullying” as “any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it be a single incident or a series of incidents, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic . . . . “

Notice that while the statute is said to be about bullying, that is only partly true.  Like many regulations against harassment, it is focused on the ordinary discriminatory criteria, such as race and gender.  Much bullying is not about that.  It is about harsh treatment for people based on their being a nerd or their interests or their awkward mannerism.  Perhaps that is covered by the “any other distinguishing characteristic” language, but perhaps not. 

Read More

Publius for the People: A Conversation with Sanford Levinson

publiusSandy Levinson joins this edition of Liberty Law Talk for a conversation about his latest book, An Argument Open to All: Reading The Federalist in the 21st Century.

Ornery Lion of the Law

Leo McKern as Rumpole of the Bailey

“How does a lawyer sleep?”

“—First he lies on one side and then on the other.”

Ugh what an unfunny joke, you say. Well we non-lawyers have to vent our feelings about lawyers somehow.

Actually there’s at least one lawyer who conquers the layman’s cynicism about the profession. He isn’t an American or even a real person. He is Rumpole of the Bailey, the creation of the late British writer John Mortimer. A new audiobook edition of Rumpole is out, with the wonderful actor Tony Britton reading the stories in Mortimer’s 2001 collection, Rumpole Rests His Case.

Read More

A Bad Season for Campaign Finance Reformers

The presidential primaries have been a bad time for campaign finance reformers. Their basic claim is that money has a uniquely powerful and disproportionate influence in politics. But this campaign season shows  that there are many other sources of influence—celebrity, academia, and the media—that can be even more potent.

The Republican party’s initial front runner, Jeb Bush, collected more money early on than other Republican. Allies also established a SuperPAC—Right to Rise—that had more money than any other associated with a competing candidate. Yet Bush exited without winning a single primary. And his candidacy also showed that money in his allied SuperPAC was no substitute for contributions directly to the candidate, as the Bush campaign had to cut back on operations after initial setbacks.

Trump, in contrast, spent little money and showed the power of celebrity, particularly in combination with media access. Studies have shown that he got more free media than any other candidate—$1.9 billion worth, by one estimate.

Read More