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 Tue, 19 Feb 2019 10:43:54 -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 2515bbe5fb935c05df109fb5b983416a One Cheer for Kamala's Cannabis Candor: The Presidential Contender Is a Johnny-Come-Lately on Legalization, but She Is Right About the Importance of Fun for 02/13/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/02/19/one-cheer-for-kamalas-cannabis-candor-the-presidential-contender-is-a-johnny-come-lately-on-legalization-but-she-is-right-about-the-importance-of-fun Wed, 13 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>How much credit should a politician get in 2019 for admitting that she smoked pot in college? Not much, especially if she only recently came around to the view that people should not be arrested for doing what she did.</p> <p>But Kamala Harris did say something noteworthy when she was asked about marijuana during a radio interview on Monday. She acknowledged the importance of fun, a point that should be made more often in discussions of drug policy.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 13, 2019</p> 386dec084d7823050c05c0bd5edee23c One Deadly Drug Raid, Two Red Herrings: Neither Gun Control nor Uncritical Support of the Police Can Stop Violence Required by War on Drugs for 02/06/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/02/19/one-deadly-drug-raid-two-red-herrings-neither-gun-control-nor-uncritical-support-of-the-police-can-stop-violence-required-by-war-on-drugs Wed, 06 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>After a drug raid killed a middle-aged couple and injured five narcotics officers in Houston last week, the head of the local police union blamed people who criticize cops, while the police chief blamed politicians who fail to support the gun control policies he favors. The real cause was a fundamentally immoral war on drugs that routinely requires violence in response to peaceful activities.</p> <p>Hours after the deadly attack on the home of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, Joe Gamaldi, the president of the Houston Police Officers Union, condemned "the ones that are out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy." He warned that "we're going to be keeping track of all y'all," and "we're gonna make sure that we hold you accountable every time you stir the pot on our police officers."<p>Updated: Wed Feb 06, 2019</p> 05e6afc25d78c51ccfe523e6b445f07a Have Gun, Can't Travel: New York City's Arbitrary Restrictions on Transporting Firearms Give SCOTUS Chance to Curtail Rampant Disrespect for the Second Amendment for 01/30/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/01/19/have-gun-cant-travel-new-york-citys-arbitrary-restrictions-on-transporting-firearms-give-scotus-chance-to-curtail-rampant-disrespect-for-the-second-amendment Wed, 30 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The first time the Supreme Court defended the Second Amendment, it overturned a Washington, D.C., law that made it a crime to keep any sort of accessible and operable firearm in the home for self-defense. Two years later, the court struck down a Chicago law that went almost as far, banning possession of handguns within the city limits.</p> <p>Last week, the court accepted a case involving another extreme example of gun control: a law that prohibits New Yorkers from taking their legally owned handguns with them when they travel outside the city. This is only the third time in more than a decade that the justices have grappled with the question of which firearm restrictions are consistent with the Second Amendment, and the history of the case shows why that reckoning is overdue.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 30, 2019</p> a668668cb52376c12e7fdbb968eb3e5b Why Wilbur Ross' Census Lies Matter: Commerce Secretary's Phony Rationale for Adding a Citizenship Question Is Inconsistent With Rule of Law for 01/23/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/01/19/why-wilbur-ross-census-lies-matter-commerce-secretarys-phony-rationale-for-adding-a-citizenship-question-is-inconsistent-with-rule-of-law Wed, 23 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In an age when the president prevaricates promiscuously or his opponents will say almost anything to make him look bad (take your pick), it is tempting to conclude that public officials can lie with impunity. But that is not always the case, as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross discovered when he tried to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census.</p> <p>Last week, a federal judge in New York ruled that Ross, whose department includes the U.S. Census Bureau, "violated the law" and "violated the public trust" in "multiple independent ways" when he decided to change the census form &#8212; most egregiously, by offering a phony rationale he invented after he had made the decision. As U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman's 277-page decision shows in head-shaking detail, that kind of dishonesty poses a clear threat to the rule of law.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 23, 2019</p> 6aa5f6d10550fdafde5890f98ddf395e The Whimsical Illogic of 'Assault Weapon' Bans: The Category Is Defined by Politicians, Who Focus on Looks Rather Than Function for 01/16/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/01/19/the-whimsical-illogic-of-assault-weapon-bans-the-category-is-defined-by-politicians-who-focus-on-looks-rather-than-function Wed, 16 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Since 1996, Gallup has been asking Americans whether they support a ban on "assault weapons." Gallup has never explained what "assault weapons" are, and there's a good reason for that: The category is defined by politicians, so its meaning is arbitrary, mutable and illogical.</p> <p>Last week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who wrote the federal "assault weapon" ban that was enacted in 1994 and expired in 2004, introduced her latest attempt to reinstate and expand it. Her bill bans "205 military-style assault weapons" by name, along with any rifle that "accepts a detachable ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics," such as "a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock."<p>Updated: Wed Jan 16, 2019</p> 64d15409682e9e80a96fc206058cd617 Are Boycotts Protected by the First Amendment? Only If You Like the Cause They Serve, According to Supporters of Laws That Target the Anti-Israel BDS Movement for 01/09/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/01/19/are-boycotts-protected-by-the-first-amendment-only-if-you-like-the-cause-they-serve-according-to-supporters-of-laws-that-target-the-anti-israel-bds-movement Wed, 09 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>I am not one of those people who keep track of the policies, positions and practices of every business they deal with, lest they inadvertently lend support to a cause they abhor or undermine one they embrace. Still, I recognize that consumers who invest time and energy in that sort of discrimination see it as an important reflection of their moral values, which, to my mind, makes it an expressive activity that should be protected by the First Amendment.</p> <p>The U.S. Supreme Court agrees &#8212; up to a point. But as the debate over laws targeting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement illustrates, it's not clear where that point is.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 09, 2019</p> a01d26048605a0ffedfe5459bcdbaea9 Trump's Right About 'Ridiculous' Misuse of US Forces for 01/02/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/01/19/trumps-right-about-ridiculous-misuse-of-us-forces Wed, 02 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Donald Trump has been complaining for years about the promiscuous use of American military personnel. Two weeks ago, he did something about it, announcing the withdrawal of 2,000 troops from Syria and 7,000 from Afghanistan.</p> <p>Republicans joined Democrats in condemning Trump for acting impulsively, sowing "chaos," and precipitating a "national security crisis." But it's the president's overwrought critics who are making choices without thinking, driven by the momentum of military mistakes to support open-ended commitments that make no sense.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 02, 2019</p> f3b342dabab2a08ec0754a368fad37d1 Blame Anybody but Trump: For the President, Self-Love Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry for 12/26/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/12/18/blame-anybody-but-trump-for-the-president-self-love-means-never-having-to-say-youre-sorry Wed, 26 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>For the past decade, I have been writing an end-of-the-year column recalling memorable examples of blame-shifting during the previous 12 months. At first, these compendiums featured various public figures, including Barack Obama. But then Donald Trump took up residence in the White House, providing such a rich trove of examples that no one else could compete.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Although Trump had never held public office before he was elected president, he outdoes professional politicians in his obstinate refusal to accept responsibility for any problem or failure.</span> For Trump, as these highlights from 2018 show, self-love means never having to say you're sorry.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 26, 2018</p> 47f756db9c5f1af5cffc74d6b45a2764 Punishing Patients Won't Reduce Opioid Deaths: A New Medicare Prescription Rule Will Aggravate Undertreatment of Pain for 12/19/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/12/18/punishing-patients-wont-reduce-opioid-deaths-a-new-medicare-prescription-rule-will-aggravate-undertreatment-of-pain Wed, 19 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>A patient with metastatic prostate cancer tried to kill himself after he could not get the medication he was prescribed for bone pain because a suspicious pharmacist called his insurer, which denied coverage. Barbara McAneny, the president of the American Medical Association, commented, "I share the nation's concern that more than 100 people a day die of an overdose," she said. "But my patient nearly died of an underdose."</p> <p>McAneny was talking about the suffering caused by government pressure to reduce opioid prescriptions, which has led to denials of treatment and arbitrary dose reductions across the country. A Medicare rule that take effect on Jan. 1 will compound that problem, even as it becomes increasingly clear that the "opioid crisis" is driven by consumption of illicitly produced drugs rather than prescribed medication.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 19, 2018</p> e5ed4ac45043a5468948652d6447c4fe William Barr's Never-Ending War: Trump's Nominee for Attorney General Is Apt to Encourage His Worst Instincts on Drug Policy for 12/12/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/12/18/william-barrs-never-ending-war-trumps-nominee-for-attorney-general-is-apt-to-encourage-his-worst-instincts-on-drug-policy Wed, 12 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>William Barr, Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general, believes the president has vast, unilateral authority to protect national security, which he says is threatened by the distribution of psychoactive substances the government has decreed Americans should not want.</p> <p>Those positions are a dangerous combination that is apt to encourage the worst instincts of a president who portrays himself as tough on crime, promises to stop the flow of illegal drugs and revels in pointless military displays. With Barr as attorney general and Trump as president, we may see an increasingly literal war on drugs in which aggression masquerades as self-defense.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 12, 2018</p> 7a150cd4167b5fe227447b46794747d1 Stop Ignoring Double Jeopardy: The Supreme Court Should Reconsider the Misbegotten Dual Sovereignty Doctrine for 12/05/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/12/18/stop-ignoring-double-jeopardy-the-supreme-court-should-reconsider-the-misbegotten-dual-sovereignty-doctrine Wed, 05 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>No one disputes that Terance Gamble, who was convicted of second-degree robbery in 2008, broke the law by possessing the pistol that a police officer found in his car during a traffic stop in Mobile, Alabama, seven years later. In fact, he broke two laws, as both Alabama and the federal government bar people with felony records from owning guns.</p> <p>Does that mean Gamble committed two offenses? That's the question at the heart of a case that gives the Supreme Court an opportunity to reconsider a longstanding but misbegotten exception to the constitutional ban on double jeopardy.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 05, 2018</p> becf400c081c5f952e6aa5713fb03fd7 Profitable Penalties Imperil Justice: Supreme Court Should Make It Clear That State Forfeitures Are Constrained by Excessive Fines Clause for 11/28/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/11/18/profitable-penalties-imperil-justice-supreme-court-should-make-it-clear-that-state-forfeitures-are-constrained-by-excessive-fines-clause Wed, 28 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Tyson Timbs, an Indiana man desperate for money to support his heroin habit, did exactly what the cops asked him to do: sell them 4 grams of the drug in two transactions for a total of $385. His reward was a year of home detention, five years of probation and $1,200 in court-ordered fees.</p> <p>Adding insult to injury, police seized the 2012 Land Rover that Timbs had bought with $42,000 from his father's life insurance payout. In a case that could lead to limits on the system of legalized theft known as civil asset forfeiture, the Supreme Court is considering whether Timbs can challenge the confiscation of his car as a violation of the Eighth Amendment's ban on "excessive fines."<p>Updated: Wed Nov 28, 2018</p> bcbe96788a01037a39b2d2143bc99b7b Alarmist Nonsense Should Not Stop Sentencing Reform: Modest Changes in First Step Act Are No Threat to Public Safety for 11/21/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/11/18/alarmist-nonsense-should-not-stop-sentencing-reform-modest-changes-in-first-step-act-are-no-threat-to-public-safety Wed, 21 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The federal sentencing reforms that Donald Trump endorsed last week could shorten the terms of 2,700 or so drug offenders who are already in prison and perhaps another 2,200 who are sent there each year. That amounts to 1.5 percent of the current federal prison population and 3 percent of the federal defendants sentenced in fiscal year 2017, respectively.</p> <p>These reforms, which are included in the Senate version of the aptly named First Step Act, are extremely modest, especially since the federal system accounts for only 9 percent of the 2.2 million people incarcerated across the country. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Yet opponents of the bill portray it as a reckless gamble with public safety, which is how they portray every attempt to make our obscenely bloated, mindlessly punitive criminal justice system even slightly more proportionate and discriminating.</span><p>Updated: Wed Nov 21, 2018</p> 111dddfefac807d088d50763154edd54 Restricting E-Cigarette Flavors Endangers Public Health: The FDA's Decree Will Make Vaping Less Appealing and Less Accessible to Smokers Interested in Switching for 11/14/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/11/18/restricting-e-cigarette-flavors-endangers-public-health-the-fdas-decree-will-make-vaping-less-appealing-and-less-accessible-to-smokers-interested-in-switching Wed, 14 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Critics of the vaping industry portray the flavors that the Food and Drug Administration wants to ban from stores that admit minors as evidence of a conspiracy to hook the youth of America on nicotine. The FDA itself has a more sophisticated understanding of the market but is still far too willing to sacrifice the interests of adult smokers in the name of fighting an "epidemic" of underage e-cigarette use.</p> <p>"We recognize (e-cigarettes) as a viable alternative for adult smokers who want to get access to satisfying levels of nicotine without all the harmful effects of combustion," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC last month. "If we could switch every adult smoker to an e-cigarette, it would have a profound public health impact."<p>Updated: Wed Nov 14, 2018</p> 4841ec3ac73a45186d4014b3539cb083 Andrew Cuomo's Unconstitutional Assault on the NRA: N.Y.'s Governor Is Violating the First Amendment by Pressuring Banks and Insurers to Shun 'Gun Promotion Organizations' for 11/07/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/11/18/andrew-cuomos-unconstitutional-assault-on-the-nra-nys-governor-is-violating-the-first-amendment-by-pressuring-banks-and-insurers-to-shun-gun-promotion-organizations Wed, 07 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's methods may be obscure, but his assault on the First Amendment is anything but subtle. "If the @NRA goes bankrupt because of the State of New York," the governor tweeted in August, "they'll be in my thoughts and prayers. I'll see you in court."</p> <p>That court is expected to decide any day now whether the National Rifle Association can proceed with its federal lawsuit against Cuomo, which charges him with using the state's Department of Financial Services to pursue a "political vendetta against the NRA." <span class="column--highlighted-text">The American Civil Liberties Union thinks the case should be heard, and it's not hard to see why, given Cuomo's thuggish abuse of regulatory powers to punish his opponents in the gun control debate.</span><p>Updated: Wed Nov 07, 2018</p> a3060cda31f6d38a0f29ec3d487de66d The DOJ Should Not Prosecute Robert Bowers: The Federal Case Against the Pittsburgh Shooter Is Redundant and Constitutionally Questionable for 10/31/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/10/18/the-doj-should-not-prosecute-robert-bowers-the-federal-case-against-the-pittsburgh-shooter-is-redundant-and-constitutionally-questionable Wed, 31 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p></p><p>If anyone deserves execution, the man who murdered 11 mostly elderly people at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday certainly seems like a strong contender. But regardless of how you feel about the death penalty, the Justice Department's decision to pursue it in this case should trouble you if you worry about an overweening federal government, value the principle underlying the constitutional ban on double jeopardy or think the government ought to punish people for their actions rather than their beliefs.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 31, 2018</p> 7f3552e28c6c41158689e521a65d52bd 5 Things Canada Got Right When It Legalized Pot: What We Can Learn from Our Northern Neighbors for 10/24/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/10/18/5-things-canada-got-right-when-it-legalized-pot-what-we-can-learn-from-our-northern-neighbors Wed, 24 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It turns out that when you legalize marijuana, a lot of people show up to buy it. That development seemed to surprise cannabis controllers in Canada, where shortages were reported almost immediately after legal recreational sales began last week.</p> <p>In several other respects, however, Canada is handling the transition from prohibition to regulation better than the United States. Canadians seem to have learned a few things from American mistakes, and we in turn can learn from their successes.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 24, 2018</p> 621788ba828bd075c857ec81124d48a6 Trump Slams 'Very Unfair' Drug Sentences: The President's Comments Could Improve the Prospects for Federal Penal Reform for 10/17/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/10/18/trump-slams-very-unfair-drug-sentences-the-presidents-comments-could-improve-the-prospects-for-federal-penal-reform Wed, 17 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Kanye West's literal embrace of Donald Trump was all over the news last week. The president's rhetorical embrace of criminal justice reform got considerably less attention, but may prove more consequential.</p> <p>In an interview with Fox News on the morning of his meeting with the rap impresario, Trump signaled that he was ready to go beyond "back-end" reform, which focuses on rehabilitation of inmates, and support "front end" reform, which focuses on reducing sentences and sending fewer people to prison. The key to understanding Trump's remarks is Alice Marie Johnson, whose sentence the president commuted in June at the behest of West's wife, Kim Kardashian.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 17, 2018</p> ab6d4d5b30aaea22bd434137ef27a10e Why the Executive Branch Shouldn't Legislate: Progressives Appreciate the Separation of Powers -- Up to a Point for 10/10/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/10/18/why-the-executive-branch-shouldnt-legislate-progressives-appreciate-the-separation-of-powers-up-to-a-point Wed, 10 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Brett Kavanaugh, who joined the Supreme Court this week, and Neil Gorsuch, who was appointed last year, share a commitment to maintaining the separation of powers between Congress and the executive branch. Although leftish opponents of both nominations portrayed that commitment as a threat to enlightened federal regulation, it can also produce results that progressives welcome, as illustrated by a case the court heard last week.</p> <p>At issue was the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which Congress passed in 2006. SORNA prescribes fines and up to 10 years in prison for sex offenders who do not register with the states where they live or who fail to keep their information up-to-date.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 10, 2018</p> a41e968e1f76bfcaeeed00157b0fc0f2 Lie Detectors Aren't Fact: A Polygraph Test Does Not Prove Christine Blasey Ford Is Telling the Truth -- or Anything Else for 10/03/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/10/18/lie-detectors-arent-fact-a-polygraph-test-does-not-prove-christine-blasey-ford-is-telling-the-truth-or-anything-else Wed, 03 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>There was no shortage of absurdities during last week's Senate hearing on Christine Blasey Ford's sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But the suggestion that the polygraph test she passed proved she was telling the truth may have been the silliest.</p> <p>"I understand that you've taken a polygraph test, Dr. Ford, that found that you were being truthful when you described what happened to you," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) twice noted that Kavanaugh, unlike Ford, had not taken a polygraph test, implying that the omission was evidence of his guilt.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 03, 2018</p>