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, 12 Nov 2019 07:59:26 -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 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> b6f3cbfe1bba03193b9a1268a704f128 Don't Hate Me Because I Bag My Own Groceries: According to a Proposed Oregon Ballot Initiative, I Am Contributing to Unemployment, Social Isolation and Adolescent Alcoholism for 09/11/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/09/19/dont-hate-me-because-i-bag-my-own-groceries-according-to-a-proposed-oregon-ballot-initiative-i-am-contributing-to-unemployment-social-isolation-and-adolescent-alcoholism Wed, 11 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When I buy groceries, I almost always use the self-checkout line. I confess that I did not contemplate the broader social and economic implications of my choice until Tom Chamberlain enlightened me.</p> <p>Chamberlain, who is the Oregon president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, last week announced that his organization will soon be collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would prohibit grocery stores from operating more than two self-checkout stations at a time. His arguments for imposing that restriction point the way to a world in which efficiency-boosting innovations are automatically suspect, no matter how popular they may prove to be.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 11, 2019</p> 32876171f585eccfd6f2661bdda29708 YouTube Is Not the Government: Conservatives Who Argue the Video Platform Is Constrained by the First Amendment Are Forsaking Their Constitutional Principles for 09/04/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/09/19/youtube-is-not-the-government-conservatives-who-argue-the-video-platform-is-constrained-by-the-first-amendment-are-forsaking-their-constitutional-principles Wed, 04 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dennis Prager may or may not have a legitimate beef with YouTube, which he says has been restricting access to videos produced by his nonprofit organization, Prager University, because of its conservative perspective. But one thing is clear: YouTube is not violating the First Amendment, and the political commentator's claims to the contrary are anything but conservative. </p> <p>During a hearing last week before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, the two members of the three-judge panel who spoke were understandably skeptical of PragerU's argument that YouTube's decisions about which videos should be accessible in "restricted" mode implicate the First Amendment. The reason for that skepticism is obvious: <span class="column--highlighted-text">The First Amendment is a constraint on government, not on private publishers, no matter how successful or influential they are.</span><p>Updated: Wed Sep 04, 2019</p> d49e9f66589606e19f8898a22db1396f The False Premises of the Ruling Against Johnson & Johnson: Blaming Opioid Makers for 'Opioid Crisis' May Be Emotionally Satisfying, but Reality Is More Complicated for 08/28/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/08/19/the-false-premises-of-the-ruling-against-johnson-johnson-blaming-opioid-makers-for-opioid-crisis-may-be-emotionally-satisfying-but-reality-is-more-complicated Wed, 28 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>This week, an Oklahoma judge ruled that Johnson & Johnson should pay $572 million to "abate" a "public nuisance" the company created in that state by minimizing the hazards and overselling the benefits of prescription opioids. A few months ago, a North Dakota judge rejected a very similar claim against Purdue Pharma under a nearly identical "public nuisance" statute.</p> <p>The difference between those two decisions partly reflects the difference between broad and narrow understandings of "public nuisance." But the diametrically opposed rulings also pit a simple narrative of the "opioid crisis" with a clear set of villains against a more complicated story that's closer to the truth.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 28, 2019</p> 6a685220647fb4963928e5e9c06c0ab3 It Wasn't Just a Chokehold That Killed Eric Garner: His Death Resulted From a Violent Confrontation That Never Should Have Happened for 08/21/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/08/19/it-wasnt-just-a-chokehold-that-killed-eric-garner-his-death-resulted-from-a-violent-confrontation-that-never-should-have-happened Wed, 21 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The dismissal of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, five years after he participated in the fatal arrest of Eric Garner, hinged on a second-by-second analysis of cellphone video showing Pantaleo subduing the suspected cigarette seller, who was about the his height but weighed almost twice as much. <span class="column--highlighted-text">An administrative judge concluded, and Police Commissioner James O'Neill agreed, that Pantaleo recklessly used a prohibited chokehold, applying pressure to Garner's neck in a way that inflicted injury and helped trigger an asthma attack.</span></p> <p>But the factors that led to Garner's death go beyond the misconduct of one officer. They include policies and practices that resulted in a violent confrontation that never should have happened.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 21, 2019</p> 7053ed3807d8314d2514b38436137098 Democrats Join Trump in Seeking Balance by Policing Speech: The Constitutional Amendment They Support, Like President's Plan to Regulate Social Media, Trusts Government to Moderate Political Debate for 08/14/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/08/19/democrats-join-trump-in-seeking-balance-by-policing-speech-the-constitutional-amendment-they-support-like-presidents-plan-to-regulate-social-media-trusts-government-to-moderate-political-debate Wed, 14 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Donald Trump wants to regulate social media, while Democrats want to regulate political spending. Both are prepared to sacrifice freedom of speech on the altar of fairness, balance and equality.</p> <p>The president's plan for fighting anti-conservative bias on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook is still in flux. But it reportedly includes siccing the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission on companies that are deemed to be removing content for political or ideological reasons.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 14, 2019</p> 79bc8cf31563615a21539a53de14a190 'Red Flag' Laws Leave Gun Owners Defenseless: The Trump-Endorsed Response to Mass Shootings Gives Due Process Short Shrift for 08/07/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/08/19/red-flag-laws-leave-gun-owners-defenseless-the-trump-endorsed-response-to-mass-shootings-gives-due-process-short-shrift Wed, 07 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Responding to the mass shootings that took 22 lives in El Paso and nine in Dayton over the weekend, Donald Trump said it should be easier to confiscate people's guns when they are deemed a threat to others. That prescription may or may not prevent any murders, but it will certainly hurt many innocent Americans by depriving them of their Second Amendment rights.</p> <p>"We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms, and that, if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process," the president said on Monday. "That is why I have called for red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders."<p>Updated: Wed Aug 07, 2019</p> a1e7d8aa6c68b4c1c4a390e99fac5b01 The Puny Reality of Russian Election Meddling: If Moscow Aimed to 'Sow Chaos,' It Needed a Much Bigger Budget for 07/31/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/07/19/the-puny-reality-of-russian-election-meddling-if-moscow-aimed-to-sow-chaos-it-needed-a-much-bigger-budget Wed, 31 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>For years now, we've been hearing that Russia "meddled" in the 2016 presidential election. And as much as Donald Trump might want to deny it because of the implication that a foreign power helped him defeat Hillary Clinton, the evidence that Russian agents tried to influence the election, or at least the debate surrounding it, seems clear.</p> <p>Whether they succeeded in doing so is a different question. While we may never have a definitive answer, clear thinking about the issue requires distinguishing between different kinds of meddling, some of which are more troubling than others.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 31, 2019</p> 06fa094cf7700341f6b3fb6651a915e7 How Confirmation Bias Sends Innocent People to Prison: A New Study of Wrongful Convictions Shows the Problem Goes Beyond Misconduct by Police and Prosecutors for 07/24/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/07/19/how-confirmation-bias-sends-innocent-people-to-prison-a-new-study-of-wrongful-convictions-shows-the-problem-goes-beyond-misconduct-by-police-and-prosecutors Wed, 24 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Last week, an Oklahoma judge freed Corey Atchison, who had spent 28 years in prison for a murder he has always said he did not commit, after concluding that he had been convicted based on the false testimony of "purported eyewitnesses" who had been "coerced" by prosecutors. The next day, an Idaho judge exonerated Christopher Tapp, who had served more than two decades for rape and murder, after DNA evidence implicated another man, who confessed to the crimes.</p> <p>While cases like these often feature wrongdoing by individual prosecutors and police officers, a new study suggests the problem is deeper. After analyzing 50 wrongful convictions and other investigative failures, Texas State University criminologists Kim Rossmo and Joycelyn Pollock found that confirmation bias, reinforced by groupthink and strong incentives to quickly identify the perpetrators of highly publicized crimes, figures prominently in the mistakes that send innocent people to prison.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 24, 2019</p> 016b0baca02ccc6be09c537b3ce4b8e8 The Folly of Government-Imposed Social Media 'Neutrality': Trump Supports a Bill That Would Encourage Censorship in the Name of Free Speech for 07/17/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/07/19/the-folly-of-government-imposed-social-media-neutrality-trump-supports-a-bill-that-would-encourage-censorship-in-the-name-of-free-speech Wed, 17 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Last week, two days after he lost a First Amendment lawsuit brought by critics he had blocked on Twitter, Donald Trump promised to "protect the free speech rights of ALL AMERICANS" through "regulatory and legislative solutions" aimed at guaranteeing equal access to social media. "At a time when social media platforms are banning conservative voices and supporters of the president," said Brad Parscale, Trump's 2020 campaign manager, "it's important for President Trump to emphasize that he appreciates their support and wants to protect their First Amendment rights."</p> <p>No one would mistake the president &#8212; who averred during his "social media summit" that press coverage he considers unfair is "not free speech" &#8212; for a constitutional scholar. But his views reflect widespread confusion about the First Amendment that has led many of his supporters to endorse policies that would interfere with freedom of speech in the name of protecting it.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 17, 2019</p> 646b92b8a429ac2293db245d6f9fba6e Blame Wilbur Ross' Clumsy Lies for the Census Mess: The Commerce Secretary Could Easily Have Reinstated the Citizenship Question If He'd Been Less Transparently Dishonest for 07/10/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/07/19/blame-wilbur-ross-clumsy-lies-for-the-census-mess-the-commerce-secretary-could-easily-have-reinstated-the-citizenship-question-if-hed-been-less-transparently-dishonest Wed, 10 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>If you want to understand why the Trump administration is scrambling at the last minute to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census, you have to look beyond the lawsuits filed by Democrats anxious about the question's political impact. The only reason that litigation produced a June 27 Supreme Court decision blocking the question was the blatant, bumbling mendacity of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose rationale for the change Chief Justice John Roberts and four of his colleagues deemed "contrived" and "pretextual."</p> <p>Whether that conclusion should make a legal difference is a matter of dispute; four justices thought it shouldn't. But if Ross, whose department includes the Census Bureau, had told the truth &#8212; or even if he had been better at lying &#8212; census forms with the citizenship question would already be rolling off the presses.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 10, 2019</p> 43be484f2daccc1c951629f05c89aed5 Harris and Trump Unite to Defend the Imperial Presidency: The Senator and the President She Wants to Unseat Are Determined to Have Their Way, Regardless of What the Law Says for 07/03/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/07/19/harris-and-trump-unite-to-defend-the-imperial-presidency-the-senator-and-the-president-she-wants-to-unseat-are-determined-to-have-their-way-regardless-of-what-the-law-says Wed, 03 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When Congress declined to allocate the money he wanted for a wall along the southern border, Donald Trump refused to take no for an answer. Kamala Harris, one of the Democrats vying to oppose Trump in next year's presidential election, likewise vows that if Congress does not change federal gun laws, she will do it by "executive action."</p> <p>The president and the California senator are both unwilling to let a recalcitrant legislature stop them from keeping their campaign promises, and supporters who share their goals may be inclined to cheer them on, even while faulting the other side for disregarding the rule of law and the constitutional separation of powers. <span class="column--highlighted-text">That double standard is useful in the short run but disastrous in the long run, enhancing the imperial presidency in ways that members of both major parties will come to regret.</span><p>Updated: Wed Jul 03, 2019</p> 7c2cfb06074b99b835f5f22f781f899e Democrats Reveal Their Hostility to the Second Amendment: Most of the Party's Presidential Contenders Show Little or No Concern for the Right to Armed Self-Defense for 06/26/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/06/19/democrats-reveal-their-hostility-to-the-second-amendment-most-of-the-partys-presidential-contenders-show-little-or-no-concern-for-the-right-to-armed-self-defense Wed, 26 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The New York Times recently asked 21 Democratic presidential contenders a question about firearms, and none of them advocated gun control. Instead, they called for "commonsense gun safety," a euphemism that reflects a general caginess about how far they would go in restricting the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.</p> <p>"In an ideal world," the Times asked, "would anyone own handguns?" Many of the answers reinforce the impression that the Democratic Party is increasingly hostile to the Second Amendment.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 26, 2019</p>