Jacob Sullum from Creators Syndicate https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 21 Sep 2018 14:01:45 -0700 https://www.creators.com/ http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Jacob Sullum from Creators Syndicate https://cdn.creators.com/features/jacob-sullum-thumb.jpg https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum 90b13f80dda1259c71d4c8c3d00d40b5 New E-Cigarette Restrictions Could Be Lethal: FDA Regulations Aimed at Discouraging Underage Vaping May Also Deter Smokers from Switching for 09/19/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/09/18/new-e-cigarette-restrictions-could-be-lethal-fda-regulations-aimed-at-discouraging-underage-vaping-may-also-deter-smokers-from-switching Wed, 19 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Scott Gottlieb, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, says he still believes in the harm-reducing potential of e-cigarettes, which are far less hazardous than their combustible competitors. But by threatening to restrict e-cigarettes in the name of preventing underage vaping, he is knowingly setting a course that leads to more smoking-related deaths than would occur if the government were to let the market thrive.</p> <p>"In closing the on-ramp to kids," Gottlieb said in a speech last week, "we're going to have to narrow the off-ramp for adults who want to migrate off combustible tobacco and onto e-cigs." That "unfortunate tradeoff," as he calls it, is not necessary, scientifically sensible or morally justifiable.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 19, 2018</p> f2decd592b4fc7d1cd131f5b20d27777 Pot Prohibition Makes Self-Defense Illegal: The Case Against Krissy Noble Shows How Drug and Gun Laws Conspire to Deprive People of a Fundamental Right for 09/12/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/09/18/pot-prohibition-makes-self-defense-illegal-the-case-against-krissy-noble-shows-how-drug-and-gun-laws-conspire-to-deprive-people-of-a-fundamental-right Wed, 12 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>When a stranger forced his way into her apartment, tackled her, punched her repeatedly and tried to cover her mouth with a cloth, Krissy Noble did what she thought was necessary to protect herself and her unborn baby. She grabbed a handgun from the coffee table and shot the man three times. Then she ran to a neighbor's apartment and asked her to call the police.</p> <p>Although local prosecutors agreed that the shooting was justified, Noble faces charges that could put her behind bars for years, thanks to a marijuana conviction that made it illegal for her to possess firearms. Her case shows how drug prohibition and indiscriminate gun laws conspire to deprive people of the constitutional right to armed self-defense.</p> <p>The man who came to Noble's door in Fort Smith, Arkansas, on Dec. 7 was Dylan Stancoff, the boyfriend of a woman who had once lived in the apartment with Brendon Tran, now Noble's husband. Noble told police that Stancoff, who apparently had come to recover his girlfriend's possessions, initially knocked on the door, identified himself as Cameron White, and asked for Tran, who wasn't there.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 12, 2018</p> b57bb51a035311d2a420084a6d5a6ae6 Supervised Injection Facilities Save Lives: The Justice Department's Opposition to Such Harm-Reducing Programs Is Irrational, Unscientific and Inhumane for 09/05/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/09/18/supervised-injection-facilities-save-lives-the-justice-departments-opposition-to-such-harm-reducing-programs-is-irrational-unscientific-and-inhumane Wed, 05 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Last week, the California legislature approved a bill that would authorize "overdose prevention programs" in San Francisco where people can inject their own drugs in a safe, sanitary and supervised environment. The next day, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein published a New York Times op-ed piece in which he promised "swift and aggressive action" against such programs.</p> <p>The fight over safe injection facilities, or SIFs, which operate legally in 66 cities around the world but are prohibited in the United States, is the latest round of a long-running debate. <span class="column--highlighted-text">On one side are advocates of "harm reduction," who seek to save lives by making drug use less dangerous; on the other are hard-line prohibitionists like Rosenstein, who seek to deter drug use by keeping it as dangerous as possible.</span><p>Updated: Wed Sep 05, 2018</p> 3ff3391228fa95e6a7095c2b615dbad5 Ignorance Is Trump's Excuse: Given the President's Confusion About Campaign Finance Law, How Could He Have 'Knowingly and Willfully' Violated It? for 08/29/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/08/18/ignorance-is-trumps-excuse-given-the-presidents-confusion-about-campaign-finance-law-how-could-he-have-knowingly-and-willfully-violated-it Wed, 29 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Donald Trump's critics say his defense of hush payments to women who claim to have had sex with him betrays a misunderstanding of campaign finance law. If so, it is hard to see how the president could have "knowingly and willfully" violated the law, as required for a criminal conviction.</p> <p>Last week, Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to making an excessive campaign contribution by paying porn star Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, $130,000 in exchange for her silence about her alleged affair with Trump. Cohen also admitted he caused an illegal corporate campaign donation by arranging for The National Enquirer to pay former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 for her story about sex with Trump, which it kept under wraps.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 29, 2018</p> 14ccedac9848288ef5af9304b0095656 Trump Is No Match for the First Amendment for 08/22/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/08/18/trump-is-no-match-for-the-first-amendment Wed, 22 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When 400 or so news outlets ran editorials chastising Donald Trump for his anti-press demagoguery last week, they made an important point about freedom of speech in America: Journalists may be mad at the president, but they are not afraid him, which is no small accomplishment in a world where reporters who offend powerful people can end up behind bars or below ground.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Americans owe their freedom of expression to the quasi-magical powers of words written more than two centuries ago. </span>Combined with an independent judiciary, those words continue to provide robust protection for people who annoy the government.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 22, 2018</p> f25e39b0d206b610ee0052f6fae4739a Andrew Cuomo's Accidental Crime for 08/15/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/08/18/andrew-cuomos-accidental-crime Wed, 15 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>During a visit to the Adirondacks last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recalled retrieving a feather shed by an eagle that "swooped down right next to us with this beautiful, graceful glide" as he was canoeing with his family on Lake Saranac. Cuomo did not realize he was confessing to a crime.</p> <p>As the Associated Press pointed out, picking up that feather was a federal offense, punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to a year in prison. Cuomo, who said he would remedy the situation by returning the feather to the lake or surrendering it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, clearly does not expect to be punished for a crime he committed inadvertently, and therein lies a lesson he should take to heart.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 15, 2018</p> 830581c9f34f46b64fc317c82c9ba048 Gun Control Becomes Speech Control for 08/08/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/08/18/gun-control-becomes-speech-control Wed, 08 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In a recent editorial demanding censorship of legal, unclassified information about firearms, The Washington Post mentioned freedom of speech in passing but immediately dismissed its relevance.</p> <p>That's par for the course among gun controllers terrified by the thought of Americans using 3D printers or computerized milling machines to make firearms with the help of software provided by Defense Distributed. People who are convinced that the Austin, Texas, company's computer code will "put carnage a click away" (as the Post put it) tend to overlook the fact that they have moved from regulating guns to regulating speech.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 08, 2018</p> 9733ec72d501f31c36cf976bf98fd3d5 Federal Judge Breaks Up Albuquerque's Car Theft Ring for 08/01/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/07/18/federal-judge-breaks-up-albuquerques-car-theft-ring Wed, 01 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>On a Saturday afternoon in April 2016, Arlene Harjo let her 38-year-old son borrow her two-year-old Nissan Versa for what he said was a trip to the gym with his friends. He was gone all day, and the next morning Harjo learned that Albuquerque police had arrested him for driving while intoxicated. The cops had also taken custody of Harjo's car, which the city planned to keep.</p> <p>Harjo's response to Albuquerque's theft of her car culminated this week in a ruling that highlights two especially troubling aspects of civil forfeiture. The practice, which allows confiscation of assets allegedly tied to crime even when the owner has not been accused of breaking the law, gives the government a financial incentive to take people's property and requires them to prove their innocence if they want to get it back.</p> <p>U.S. District Judge James Browning, in a decision issued on Monday, said those features make Albuquerque's forfeiture ordinance inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of due process. "The City of Albuquerque has an unconstitutional institutional incentive to prosecute forfeiture cases," he writes, "because, in practice, the forfeiture program sets its own budget and can spend, without meaningful oversight, all of the excess funds it raises from previous years." Furthermore, the program "violates procedural due process, because owners have to prove that their cars are not subject to civil forfeiture."<p>Updated: Wed Aug 01, 2018</p> b0c1dbe8906e9bc22de161a53cafd0f7 Don't Blame 'Stand Your Ground' for Markeis McGlockton's Death for 07/25/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/07/18/dont-blame-stand-your-ground-for-markeis-mcglocktons-death Wed, 25 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Markeis McGlockton and Michael Drejka both overreacted during their brief, fatal encounter in the parking lot of a Florida convenience store last week. McGlockton overreacted by pushing Drejka to the ground, and Drejka overreacted by drawing a pistol and shooting McGlockton in the chest.</p> <p>Although it is hard to see how Drejka's use of lethal force could have been justified, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri declined to arrest him, claiming his hands were tied by Florida's Stand Your Ground law. But that is not true, and Gualtieri's misrepresentation of the law has renewed misguided criticism of Florida's approach to self-defense, which contrary to popular misconception does not give a free pass to armed hotheads who claim to have fired out of fear.</p> <p>The incident that ended in McGlockton's death began when Drejka approached Britany Jacobs, McGlockton's girlfriend, as she sat in her car outside the Circle A Food Store in Clearwater. Drejka was upset that Jacobs had parked in a handicapped spot, and the ensuing argument attracted the attention of McGlockton, who was in the store buying candy for his 5-year-old son.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 25, 2018</p> 96a7a5d51e6d2a9be7bd73df008e17ec Brett Kavanaugh's Fourth Amendment Blind Spot for 07/18/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/07/18/brett-kavanaughs-fourth-amendment-blind-spot Wed, 18 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>This week Rand Paul, the libertarian-leaning Republican senator from Kentucky, said he was "worried" and "disappointed" by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's views on the Fourth Amendment. It is not hard to see why.</p> <p>Kavanaugh, who has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since 2006, is skeptical of politicians who want to restrict gun rights, regulators who limit freedom of speech or assert powers with a dubious statutory basis and prosecutors who try to convict defendants without proving all the elements of their alleged crimes. But he seems less inclined to scrutinize the claims of cops and spies who collect evidence without a warrant.</p> <p>To some extent, Kavanaugh is simply following his understanding of the Supreme Court's search and seizure precedents. But he has been known to venture beyond those cases in ways that alarm civil libertarians.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 18, 2018</p> de27883247e819c6d1ca85c80a1396f1 Another Surprisingly Subversive Justice for 07/11/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/07/18/another-surprisingly-subversive-justice Wed, 11 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Upon being nominated to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh said he had "witnessed firsthand" Donald Trump's "appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary." That claim raised some eyebrows, given the president's tendency to question the authority of judges who reach conclusions he does not like.</p> <p>Kavanaugh, by contrast, clearly understands the importance of an independent judiciary as a check on the other branches of government. His readiness to perform that function as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is reassuring, especially since the man who picked him for the Supreme Court seems to know little and care less about the legal principles that protect liberty and thwart tyranny.</p> <p>One of those principles is the presumption that people should not be convicted of crimes they did not realize they were committing. Based on that presumption, Kavanaugh dissented from a 2012 decision upholding a bank robber's conviction for carrying a machine gun in the course of a violent crime.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 11, 2018</p> 721a40cb1795522092ee8824576bef78 Another Justice Like Gorsuch, Please for 07/04/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/07/18/another-justice-like-gorsuch-please Wed, 04 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>"We have to STOP the next Trump nominee!" says a pop-up solicitation on People for the American Way's website. Before you rush to "donate now," you might want to consider the organization's assessment of Trump's last Supreme Court nominee.</p> <p>"Far from being a fair-minded constitutionalist," PFAW says, Neil Gorsuch "has proven to be a narrow-minded elitist who consistently votes in favor of corporations and the powerful." The gap between that description and Gorsuch's actual performance on the Court speaks volumes about the blind partisanship of Trump critics who care more about scoring political points than defending civil liberties.</p> <p>PFAW is echoing the criticism of Democratic senators who worried, before Gorsuch was confirmed in April 2017, that he was not inclined to stand up for "the little guy." Gorsuch's record during a decade on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit belied that claim, and his 15 months on the Supreme Court provide further evidence that he is not shy about defending the principles that protect politically disfavored individuals from the whims of the powerful.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 04, 2018</p> 128375bbd4899d9ceec1e69607dffe25 The Second Amendment 'Has Become Optional' for 06/27/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/06/18/the-second-amendment-has-become-optional Wed, 27 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Ten years ago this week, the Supreme Court for the first time explicitly recognized that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to armed self-defense. Since then the Court has revisited the subject only twice, while it has heard about 45 cases involving the Fourth Amendment and about 60 involving the First.</p> <p>That stark disparity reflects a failure noted by critics on and off the Court. After waiting more than two centuries to acknowledge that the Second Amendment imposes limits on legislation, the Court has passed up dozens of opportunities to clarify the extent of those limits, leaving the task to lower courts that are often hostile to gun rights.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 27, 2018</p> a3448238559c250b1d63ed1c797bf9f3 If You Cross the Border, We'll Kidnap Your Child for 06/20/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/06/18/if-you-cross-the-border-well-kidnap-your-child Wed, 20 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>At a press conference on Monday, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen indignantly rejected the suggestion that her department's practice of forcibly separating illegal border crossers from their children was intended as a deterrent. "I find that offensive," Nielsen said, "because why would I ever create a policy that purposely does that?"</p> <p>Nielsen's mentor and predecessor, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, has explained why, describing family separation as a way of discouraging people from entering the United States without the government's permission. But even if we take Nielsen at her word, the Trump administration cannot escape responsibility for the predictably cruel consequences of its "zero tolerance" immigration policy.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 20, 2018</p> 96eb59ca52419629201350e93dc0c118 Trump Should Hurt Sessions by Helping Drug Offenders for 06/13/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/06/18/trump-should-hurt-sessions-by-helping-drug-offenders Wed, 13 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>While it may be months or years before the results of Donald Trump's summit with Kim Jong-un are clear, his meeting with the other Kim was an unqualified success. Last week, thanks to the reality TV star Kim Kardashian West's intercession on her behalf, Alice Marie Johnson, a great-grandmother serving a life sentence for nonviolent drug offenses, walked free from a federal prison in Alabama after spending almost 22 years behind bars.</p> <p>Critics of our excessively punitive criminal justice system, while pleasantly surprised by Trump's commutation of Johnson's sentence, do not hold out much hope that it marks a shift in attitude for a president who was elected on a "law and order" platform modeled after Richard Nixon's. But there may be a way, short of finding a celebrity to adopt every federal prisoner who deserves similar relief, to encourage the president to use his clemency powers for good: by emphasizing how much it would upset Jeff Sessions. </p> <p>The president has made no secret of his displeasure at the attorney general's decision to recuse himself from the investigation of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives who tried to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump views the recusal, which led to the appointment of the special counsel who is conducting the "witch hunt" that bedevils him, as an unforgivable betrayal by an ally who should have placed loyalty above Justice Department guidelines.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 13, 2018</p> 803bf72233078312f4d20741bd8837fa SCOTUS May Yet Approve Gay Wedding Cake Demands for 06/06/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/06/18/scotus-may-yet-approve-gay-wedding-cake-demands Wed, 06 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Kamala Harris, a Democratic senator from California, says Jack Phillips should have been forced to bake gay wedding cakes because "our constitution requires equal protection under the law." Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, says this week's Supreme Court ruling in Phillips' favor is "a major victory for religious liberty," upholding the Colorado baker's "constitutional right to live according to his faith."</p> <p>Although Harris and Cruz are both lawyers, they are both wrong.<span class="column--highlighted-text"> Harris conflates discrimination by individuals with discrimination by the government, while Cruz overlooks the Supreme Court's approval of laws based on that false equivalence.</span><p>Updated: Wed Jun 06, 2018</p> d5b85ca82a8030724211eaf966fe7fe4 An Overdose Is Not a Murder for 05/30/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/05/18/an-overdose-is-not-a-murder Wed, 30 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>A couple of years ago at a motel in Columbus, a young woman shared a bag of heroin with her father. Both of them nodded off. Because she woke up and he did not, she was sentenced to three years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.</p> <p>That arbitrary outcome encapsulates the senseless cruelty of a strategy that in recent years has gained favor among prosecutors across the country: treating opioid-related deaths as homicides, regardless of intent. The resulting prosecutions not only are manifestly unjust but could make fatal overdoses more likely by discouraging bystanders from seeking help.</p> <p>A recent New York Times investigation identified more than 1,000 arrests or prosecutions related to accidental opioid deaths in 15 states from 2015 through 2017, a period when the annual number of cases almost doubled. According to a 2017 report from the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), annual press mentions of such prosecutions more than tripled between 2011 and 2016, from 363 to 1,178. DPA found examples in all but four states. <p>Updated: Wed May 30, 2018</p> dc8d95e6abcb61c5cbbc9417ddc406c1 Congress Stands With the Blue, Against the Constitution for 05/23/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/05/18/congress-stands-with-the-blue-against-the-constitution Wed, 23 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Last week, the House of Representatives &#8212; by a margin of more than 10 to 1 &#8212; approved a completely gratuitous, blatantly unconstitutional bill that would make assaulting a police officer a federal crime. The lopsided vote was a bipartisan portrait in cowardice that vividly showed how readily politicians forsake their oaths of office to keep their hold on power.</p> <p>The Protect and Serve Act prescribes a prison sentence of up to 10 years for anyone who "knowingly assaults a law enforcement officer," thereby "causing serious bodily injury," or "attempts to do so." Such conduct is, of course, already illegal in all 50 states, and there is no reason to think local law enforcement agencies are reluctant to arrest and prosecute people guilty of it. <p>Updated: Wed May 23, 2018</p> 8b973a490b878397dbeae8d89f20413c SCOTUS Feigns Federalism in Sports Betting Decision for 05/16/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/05/18/scotus-feigns-federalism-in-sports-betting-decision Wed, 16 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>This week seven members of the Supreme Court agreed that Congress exceeded its powers when it passed a law that prohibited states from legalizing sports betting. But the ruling was not quite the vindication of state sovereignty that it appeared to be, since almost all of the justices also seemed to agree that Congress could have achieved the same result by passing a slightly different law that would have been constitutional. </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">The statute that the Court overturned, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, made it illegal for a state to "authorize by law" any sort of wagering on athletic contests.</span> Enacted in 1992, PASPA made an exception for Nevada but otherwise left Americans, who according to informed estimates bet more than $100 billion a year on sports, no legal way to do so.<p>Updated: Wed May 16, 2018</p> 50d78afdf663d5464ae42c3b0cb6e727 The Lethal Success of Pain Pill Restrictions for 05/09/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/05/18/the-lethal-success-of-pain-pill-restrictions Wed, 09 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In a speech on Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department is striving to "bring down" both "opioid prescriptions" and "overdose deaths." A study published the following day suggests those two goals may be at odds with each other, highlighting the potentially perverse consequences of trying to stop people from getting the drugs they want.</p> <p>Columbia University epidemiologist David Fink and his colleagues systematically reviewed research on the impact of prescription drug monitoring programs, which all 50 states have established in an effort to prevent nonmedical use of opioid analgesics and other psychoactive pharmaceuticals. Reporting their results in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Fink et al. say the evidence that PDMPs reduce deaths involving prescription opioids is "largely insufficient," adding that "implementation of PDMPs may have unintended negative outcomes &#8212; namely, increased rates of heroin-related overdose." <p>Updated: Wed May 09, 2018</p>