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 Wed, 29 Jan 2020 06:39:58 -0800 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 30054d2d351de26602da3d4dd22afb9c Panic About Peaceful Protest Reveals Gun Controllers' Bigotry: Erroneous Predictions of Violence at the Richmond Rally Conflated Civil Libertarians With Militant Racists for 01/29/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/01/20/panic-about-peaceful-protest-reveals-gun-controllers-bigotry-erroneous-predictions-of-violence-at-the-richmond-rally-conflated-civil-libertarians-with-militant-racists Wed, 29 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>After a gun rights rally in Richmond came and went last week without the "violence, rioting, and insurrection" predicted by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Talia Lavin could not believe her eyes, and she urged the rest of us not to believe our eyes either. "It seems myopic at best to describe the Monday event as 'peaceful,'" Lavin wrote in a GQ article about the rally, which attracted thousands of armed Second Amendment supporters energized by Northam's gun control agenda.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Lavin's reality-bending assessment reflects a Manichean attitude,</span> all too common among gun control supporters, that casts sincere policy disagreements as a battle between good and evil. That attitude explains why so many activists, politicians and journalists found it easy to equate a gathering of civil libertarians, organized around the defense of constitutional rights, with an invasion by white supremacists determined to sow chaos and provoke a race war.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 29, 2020</p> 60f410bd269cce65a3aea65fa33096a8 Donald Trump's Costanza Defense: The President's Lawyers Argue that Abuse of Power Is Not Impeachable Unless It Breaks the Law for 01/22/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/01/20/donald-trumps-costanza-defense-the-presidents-lawyers-argue-that-abuse-of-power-is-not-impeachable-unless-it-breaks-the-law Wed, 22 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"Was that wrong?" George Costanza asks in a 1991 episode of "Seinfeld" after his boss confronts him with a report that "you and the cleaning woman have engaged in sexual intercourse on the desk in your office." George says he has to "plead ignorance," because no one "said anything to me at all when I first started here" suggesting "that sort of thing was frowned upon."</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Donald Trump's legal team is trying out a version of the Costanza defense</span>, arguing that the articles of impeachment against him are constitutionally deficient because they do not allege any violations of the law. That claim is so dubious that even Trump's lawyers don't believe it.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 22, 2020</p> d25996b772b0e1707b03c3a7bca98df4 War Worries Transcend Trump: Even the President's Buddies Understand the Threat Posed by the Unconstrained Use of Military Force for 01/15/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/01/20/war-worries-transcend-trump-even-the-presidents-buddies-understand-the-threat-posed-by-the-unconstrained-use-of-military-force Wed, 15 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Matt Gaetz's campaign website features press quotes describing the Florida Republican as "Trump's best buddy," "Trump's ultimate defender," and "the Trumpiest congressman in Trump's Washington." Gaetz clearly was not driven by hatred of the president when he voted for last week's House resolution against an unauthorized war with Iran. </p> <p>Although it may be hard to believe in these hyperpartisan times, <span class="column--highlighted-text">Gaetz, a self-described "constitutional conservative," was defending a principle he thinks is more important than loyalty to one man or one party.</span> He was standing up for the legislative branch's long-neglected but crucial role in deciding when the country should go to war.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 15, 2020</p> c7db4084b009be412087dfb14bef2603 Are We Experiencing a Nationwide 'Anti-Semitism Crisis'? Hate Crime Data Suggest That Claim Is Overblown for 01/08/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/01/20/are-we-experiencing-a-nationwide-anti-semitism-crisis-hate-crime-data-suggest-that-claim-is-overblown Wed, 08 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"We're facing an anti-Semitism crisis, and not just in this city," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared on Sunday. "It's happening across our country and planet."</p> <p>De Blasio's warning, which came on the same day that thousands of people responded to recent anti-Jewish crimes in the New York area by joining a solidarity march in Manhattan, was more sweeping than the evidence justifies. While New York City has seen a substantial increase in reports of anti-Semitic crimes during the last two years, the story in the rest of the country is more complicated and less alarming.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 08, 2020</p> b9e9797d22431cc65763d0568590d9ee Trump's Inartful Dodges: A Look Back at a Year of Presidential Blame Shifting for 01/01/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/12/19/trumps-inartful-dodges-a-look-back-at-a-year-of-presidential-blame-shifting Wed, 01 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>During a policy retreat in September, Donald Trump attributed his signature orange hue, which seems to be caused by the amateurish application of bronzer, to energy-efficient lightbulbs. "The light's no good," he told House Republicans. "I always look orange. And so do you. The light is the worst."</p> <p>It was hardly the most consequential instance of Trump's blame shifting in 2019, but it was part of a pattern for a president who seems constitutionally incapable of accepting responsibility. Here are some of the more memorable examples from the last year.</p> <p>Border Song. "The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security," Trump said in January. Yet it was Trump who caused the shutdown by insisting on money for his "big, beautiful wall" along the southern border &#8212; money that Congress still has not approved.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 01, 2020</p> 5a4487c5b12f478ddb696e8e7b91b8ab Now That It's Toothless, Obamacare's Individual Mandate Is Unconstitutional: The Shifting Understanding of the Requirement to Buy Health Insurance Elevates Form Above Substance for 12/25/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/12/19/now-that-its-toothless-obamacares-individual-mandate-is-unconstitutional-the-shifting-understanding-of-the-requirement-to-buy-health-insurance-elevates-form-above-substance Wed, 25 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 includes a "requirement" that Americans "shall... ensure" that they and their dependents have "minimum essential coverage" for medical care. Seven years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts provided the decisive vote to uphold this requirement, also known as the "individual mandate," after counterintuitively concluding that it was neither a requirement nor a mandate but was instead merely a condition for avoiding a tax that the law describes as a "penalty."</p> <p>As of January, thanks to a tax bill that Congress passed in 2017, that penalty was reduced to zero. Consequently, a federal appeals court ruled last week, the mandate that became a tax is now a mandate again and therefore unconstitutional, a decision that is simultaneously logical and puzzling, revealing the triumph of form over substance in the judicial branch's failure to stop Congress from exercising powers it was never granted.</p> <p>In the 2012 case National Federation of Independent Business v. Sibelius, five justices agreed that forcing people to buy health insurance was not a legitimate exercise of the power to regulate interstate commerce, which has long been the favorite excuse for federal legislation that the Constitution otherwise does not seem to authorize. But Roberts was determined to save the individual mandate anyway, so he reinterpreted it as a tax, contrary to what he called the "most straightforward" and "most natural" understanding of the law, and joined four other justices in upholding the provision.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 26, 2019</p> 2430e059c8b66ca069fa8c3939428696 The FBI's Systematic Dishonesty: The Problems Revealed by the DOJ Inspector General Go Far Beyond 'Errors' and 'Sloppiness' for 12/18/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/12/19/the-fbis-systematic-dishonesty-the-problems-revealed-by-the-doj-inspector-general-go-far-beyond-errors-and-sloppiness Wed, 18 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Former FBI Director James Comey initially portrayed last week's damning report on the bureau's investigation of alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia as a vindication. This week, Comey admitted that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz discovered "real sloppiness," which is "concerning."</p> <p>That characterization does not begin to cover the problems described by Horowitz, which include egregious and persistent omissions and misrepresentations in applications for secret surveillance warrants that otherwise probably would not have been sought, let alone approved. While Comey may take comfort in the fact that Horowitz "did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI's decision" to eavesdrop on former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, the rest of us can hardly be reassured by the implication that the FBI is inept rather than corrupt.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 18, 2019</p> ea560f0ad315df225a3f3a57a7222645 Trump's Defenders Deny Reality: While the President's Motives in Seeking Ukrainian Investigations Are a Matter of Dispute, His Actions Are Clear From the Public Record for 12/11/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/12/19/trumps-defenders-deny-reality-while-the-presidents-motives-in-seeking-ukrainian-investigations-are-a-matter-of-dispute-his-actions-are-clear-from-the-public-record Wed, 11 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>During Monday's impeachment hearing, Republican lawyer Stephen Castor denied that Donald Trump had asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender to oppose Trump in next year's election. "I don't think the record supports that," Castor said.</p> <p>That jaw-dropping moment starkly illustrated the lengths to which Republicans have gone in rebutting the charge that Trump abused his powers for personal gain. The president's defenders have repeatedly contested well-established facts in a way that makes fair-minded nonpartisans despair of having an impeachment debate based on a shared understanding of reality.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 11, 2019</p> 708250979fd90e1d55961708b795640a Can Senseless Gun Regulations Be Constitutional? New York City's Successful Defense of Its Arbitrary Restrictions on Transporting Handguns Highlights Judicial Disrespect for the Second Amendment for 12/04/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/12/19/can-senseless-gun-regulations-be-constitutional-new-york-citys-successful-defense-of-its-arbitrary-restrictions-on-transporting-handguns-highlights-judicial-disrespect-for-the-second-amendment Wed, 04 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>New York's uniquely onerous restrictions on transporting guns were so hard to justify that the city stopped trying. Instead, it rewrote the rules after the Supreme Court agreed to consider a constitutional challenge to them, and now it argues that the case is moot.</p> <p>Despite the obvious vulnerability of New York's regulations, the city successfully defended them for five years, obtaining favorable rulings from a federal judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. That track record highlights a glaring problem the Supreme Court could address if it rejects the city's mootness claim: More than a decade after the justices recognized that the Second Amendment imposes limits on gun control, lower courts routinely treat the right to keep and bear arms as a minor hindrance that can be overcome by the slightest excuse.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 04, 2019</p> a30b75ac755ac9bbd0bd66e62a3eb87e Anatomy of a Drug War Crime: A Deadly Raid Based on a Bogus Tip and a Fraudulent Search Warrant Affidavit Highlights Loose Police Practices in Houston for 11/27/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/11/19/anatomy-of-a-drug-war-crime-a-deadly-raid-based-on-a-bogus-tip-and-a-fraudulent-search-warrant-affidavit-highlights-loose-police-practices-in-houston Wed, 27 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Are you confident that police will not break down your door tonight? If so, it's probably because you assume the warrant required for such an armed invasion of your home has to be based on reliable evidence of criminal activity.</p> <p>But that is not true in Houston, as a federal indictment unsealed last week shows. According to the indictment, a drug raid that killed a middle-aged couple on Jan. 28 was based on lies from start to finish, <span class="column--highlighted-text">which should alarm anyone who thinks the Fourth Amendment protects Americans from unreasonable searches.</span><p>Updated: Wed Nov 27, 2019</p> bece41f572453e170a553794a488bae6 Another Looming Threat to E-Cigarettes: Even If FDA Doesn't Ban Flavors, Its Regulations Will Drive Most Vaping Businesses and Products From the Market for 11/20/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/11/19/another-looming-threat-to-e-cigarettes-even-if-fda-doesnt-ban-flavors-its-regulations-will-drive-most-vaping-businesses-and-products-from-the-market Wed, 20 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump reportedly has reconsidered a plan to ban flavored e-cigarettes, a reversal that was widely portrayed as a triumph of politics over public health. Yet that criticism more aptly describes the proposed ban, which would have sacrificed the interests &#8212; and potentially the lives &#8212; of current and former smokers in the name of curtailing underage vaping.</p> <p>There were political arguments on both sides of this debate. Advocates of the flavor ban argued it would appeal to suburban women concerned about the recent rise in e-cigarette use by teenagers, while opponents warned that it would alienate vapers who were otherwise inclined to support the president, endangering his reelection.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 20, 2019</p> c513a8dc366dab7e010e39c21e16a3f9 Puppies and Kittens Trump the Constitution: The New Federal Ban on Animal Cruelty Converts the Commerce Clause Into a General Police Power for 11/13/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/11/19/puppies-and-kittens-trump-the-constitution-the-new-federal-ban-on-animal-cruelty-converts-the-commerce-clause-into-a-general-police-power Wed, 13 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>I guess I should say at the outset that I do not favor torturing puppies and kittens. But there is a difference between opposing cruelty to animals, which is already illegal in all 50 states, and supporting a law that makes such conduct a federal felony.</p> <p>That distinction seems to have eluded every member of Congress, which unanimously approved the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, a bill that President Donald Trump is expected to sign soon. <span class="column--highlighted-text">The PACT Act exemplifies the widely accepted but pernicious belief that Congress has free-ranging authority to address anything that bothers its members, regardless of whether it is already addressed by state law and regardless of whether it plausibly fits within their enumerated powers.</span><p>Updated: Wed Nov 13, 2019</p> b62eb87bd388c53069645e9950543ac7 Trump's Audacious Immunity Claim: The President's Desperate Attempt to Stop a Grand Jury From Seeing His Tax Returns Invokes Kingly Powers for 11/06/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/11/19/trumps-audacious-immunity-claim-the-presidents-desperate-attempt-to-stop-a-grand-jury-from-seeing-his-tax-returns-invokes-kingly-powers Wed, 06 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Donald Trump's desperate attempt to block a New York grand jury subpoena seeking his tax returns, which he once promised to publicly release, makes you wonder anew why he is so keen to prevent anyone from looking at those records, even in secret. But the case also raises the more momentous question of whether presidents have an unqualified right to quash such demands as long as they occupy the White House.</p> <p>Trump's view, as U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero summarized it last month, is that "the person who serves as President, while in office, enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind." Marrero rejected that claim as "repugnant to the nation's governmental structure and constitutional values." And on Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit agreed. <p>Updated: Wed Nov 06, 2019</p> 37381550eca1d24d18e8263fec75bb96 Cops Don't Need Another Excuse to Hassle Innocent Drivers: Supreme Court Shouldn't Let Police Stop Cars Simply Because They're Registered to People With Suspended Licenses for 10/30/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/10/19/cops-dont-need-another-excuse-to-hassle-innocent-drivers-supreme-court-shouldnt-let-police-stop-cars-simply-because-theyre-registered-to-people-with-suspended-licenses Wed, 30 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>At any given time, millions of Americans are forbidden to drive because their licenses have been suspended, often for reasons that have nothing to do with traffic safety. But their cars can still be legally driven by relatives, friends and neighbors.</p> <p>Given that reality, should police be allowed to pull over a car simply because it is registered to someone with a suspended license? While the assumption that the registered owner is behind the wheel might seem reasonable, condoning such traffic stops, as the state of Kansas is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to do in a case the justices will hear on Monday, would expose many innocent drivers to the constant threat of police harassment, even when they're not doing anything illegal.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 30, 2019</p> cc1d5dd9f0912a3d6377547e77d413ed If Confiscating 'Assault Weapons' Is a Gimmick, So Is Banning Them: O'Rourke's Scheme Would Be an Ineffectual Attempt to Enforce Arbitrary Distinctions for 10/23/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/10/19/if-confiscating-assault-weapons-is-a-gimmick-so-is-banning-them-orourkes-scheme-would-be-an-ineffectual-attempt-to-enforce-arbitrary-distinctions Wed, 23 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Beto O'Rourke is taking flak from other Democratic presidential contenders for supporting mass confiscation of military-style rifles, a proposal several of them view as an impractical campaign gimmick. Although they are right about that, all the Democratic candidates are guilty of magical thinking on this issue; they support an "assault weapon" ban that cannot reasonably be expected to have a measurable impact on gun violence.</p> <p>"Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15," O'Rourke declared during last month's Democratic presidential debate. The former Texas congressman, whose campaign immediately started selling T-shirts emblazoned with that threat, clearly thinks it will appeal to Democratic primary voters.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 23, 2019</p> fe9c0d97915f472c2977c99703f468ee The Attorney General Is Determined to Undermine Your Privacy: The Encryption Limits the Justice Department Demands in the Name of Security Would Make Us All Less Secure for 10/16/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/10/19/the-attorney-general-is-determined-to-undermine-your-privacy-the-encryption-limits-the-justice-department-demands-in-the-name-of-security-would-make-us-all-less-secure Wed, 16 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The Justice Department claims to support "strong encryption, which is used by billions of people every day for services such as banking, commerce, and communications." Yet the department is actively working to weaken encryption, lest fully secure communications frustrate law enforcement agencies seeking access to possibly incriminating messages &#8212; a problem it calls "going dark."</p> <p>Long before the government faced the "going dark" challenge, it faced the "going mobile" challenge posed by gasoline-powered vehicles, which Attorney General William Barr thinks offers an instructive analogy. He is right, but not for the reasons he suggests. The legal treatment of automobiles actually casts doubt on the Justice Department's insistence that the world be arranged to facilitate criminal investigations.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 16, 2019</p> 5e996c6a4932c5b3fb68af0eef979057 Muddled Message About Vaping Causes Costly Confusion: Vague Lung Disease Warnings Tar Harm-Reducing E-Cigarettes While Obscuring the Role of Black-Market Cannabis Products for 10/09/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/10/19/muddled-message-about-vaping-causes-costly-confusion-vague-lung-disease-warnings-tar-harm-reducing-e-cigarettes-while-obscuring-the-role-of-black-market-cannabis-products Wed, 09 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When there's an outbreak of food poisoning, the federal government does not issue general advisories about the hazards of eating. It tells people which products have been implicated so they can adjust their behavior to reduce the risks they face.</p> <p>Yet for months now, even as evidence mounted that vaping-related lung diseases overwhelmingly involved black-market cannabis products, state and federal officials have been vaguely and unhelpfully warning us about the hazards of vaping and e-cigarettes. That approach has endangered public health by failing to give cannabis consumers a clear heads-up and by implying that legal nicotine-delivering e-cigarettes, which can save smokers' lives by dramatically reducing their exposure to toxins and carcinogens, might instead kill them.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 09, 2019</p> 977e8de64cf9d9d7192d36b6df90db77 Everyone Dares Call It Treason: Both the President and His Critics Casually Deploy the Once Incendiary Charge to Discredit Their Opponents for 10/02/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/10/19/everyone-dares-call-it-treason-both-the-president-and-his-critics-casually-deploy-the-once-incendiary-charge-to-discredit-their-opponents Wed, 02 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p></p><p>Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, who is notionally challenging Donald Trump for the Republican Party's 2020 presidential nomination, last week claimed Trump is guilty of "treason, pure and simple." He added that "the penalty for treason under the U.S. Code is death." <p>Updated: Wed Oct 02, 2019</p> 75e2ed7a0495435505d23901a040638b A License for Outrageous Police Conduct: Qualified Immunity Protects Cops From Liability for Actions That Would Land Ordinary People in Jail for 09/25/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/09/19/a-license-for-outrageous-police-conduct-qualified-immunity-protects-cops-from-liability-for-actions-that-would-land-ordinary-people-in-jail Wed, 25 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When a police officer illegally arrests a photographer for taking pictures, can the officer be sued for violating the Fourth Amendment's ban on "unreasonable searches and seizures"? Yes, a federal appeals court ruled last week.</p> <p>When police officers steal cash and property worth more than $225,000 while executing a search warrant, can they be sued for violating the owners' Fourth Amendment rights? No, a different federal appeals court ruled earlier this month.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 25, 2019</p> a046d18205853ec793c8b4d67f7a0ec4 The Alarming Epidemic of Misguided Meddling With E-Cigarettes: Banning the Flavors Former Smokers Overwhelmingly Prefer Is a Strange Way to Protect Public Health for 09/18/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/09/19/the-alarming-epidemic-of-misguided-meddling-with-e-cigarettes-banning-the-flavors-former-smokers-overwhelmingly-prefer-is-a-strange-way-to-protect-public-health Wed, 18 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Banning flavored e-cigarettes is all the rage among politicians these days. It's an alarming trend that poses a clear and present danger to public health.</p> <p>The epidemic of misguided meddling began earlier this month, when Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that she planned to unilaterally criminalize the sale of e-cigarettes in flavors other than tobacco. The contagion quickly spread to the White House, where President Donald Trump said his administration plans to impose a similar ban at the federal level; to New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week declared an "emergency" ban; to California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would copy Cuomo if it were legally feasible; and to Chicago, where Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for legislation aimed at closing the "gateway" to adolescent nicotine addiction.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 18, 2019</p>