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 Mon, 19 Nov 2018 13:39:41 -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 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> aa28cf2f9e84ee0c94ce6ad6eafa2733 Bloomberg and Trump Share a Misguided Love of Stop and Frisk: Both New York Billionaires Overestimate Program's Effectiveness, Overlook Its Constitutional Defects for 09/26/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/09/18/bloomberg-and-trump-share-a-misguided-love-of-stop-and-frisk-both-new-york-billionaires-overestimate-programs-effectiveness-overlook-its-constitutional-defects Wed, 26 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Michael Bloomberg is once again threatening to run for president, this time as a Democrat. In the unlikely event that he seeks and wins the nomination, he will face off against a fellow New York billionaire who enthusiastically agrees with him about one of the most contentious law enforcement issues of the last two decades.</p> <p>Like Bloomberg, Donald Trump credits the police strategy officially known as "stop, question and frisk" with the historic decline in crime New York has seen since the 1990s. Both men think that success justified the program and recommends it to other cities. They are wrong on both counts.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 26, 2018</p> 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>