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 Sat, 06 Jun 2020 13:42:28 -0700 https://www.creators.com/ http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Jacob Sullum from Creators Syndicate https://cdn.creators.com/features/jacob-sullum-thumb.jpg https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum 8a40600e93f87ec9407d41d3e4e2d79e It's Hard to Take Either Side in Trump's Twitter Spat Seriously: The President Promises Penalties He Has No Power to Impose, While the Company Promises Moderation It Cannot Deliver for 06/03/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/06/20/its-hard-to-take-either-side-in-trumps-twitter-spat-seriously-the-president-promises-penalties-he-has-no-power-to-impose-while-the-company-promises-moderation-it-cannot-deliver Wed, 03 Jun 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p></p><p>Last Thursday the president of the United States threw a temper tantrum disguised as an executive order, threatening to punish Twitter for daring to annotate two of his comments about voting by mail. Twitter retaliated the next day, slapping a warning label on a presidential tweet about the protests triggered by George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 03, 2020</p> 9b72a5047d21f99d4d0fd4bc669c2d82 A Middle Course Between COVID-19 Hopes and Fears: Control Measures Should Be Based on Emerging Evidence About the Danger Posed by the Virus for 05/27/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/05/20/a-middle-course-between-covid-19-hopes-and-fears-control-measures-should-be-based-on-emerging-evidence-about-the-danger-posed-by-the-virus Wed, 27 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Despite what many people hoped, COVID-19 is clearly worse than the seasonal flu. But despite what other people feared, it does not seem to be nearly as lethal as the "Spanish flu" of 1918, which killed about 0.7% of the total U.S. population &#8212; equivalent to more than 2 million people today.</p> <p>As we move from lockdowns to something more closely resembling normal life, the emerging evidence about the threat posed by COVID-19 should inform our judgment about which precautions make sense. The initial, ham-handed approach &#8212; which confined hundreds of millions of people to their homes except for government-approved purposes &#8212; should be replaced by more carefully targeted measures focused on protecting the people who face the highest risk.<p>Updated: Wed May 27, 2020</p> e1c3e92ef59f45956107d39448eb1323 A Pandemic Does Not Suspend the Rule of Law: Courts Are Beginning to Recognize That Public Health Powers, While Broad, Are Not a Blank Check for 05/20/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/05/20/a-pandemic-does-not-suspend-the-rule-of-law-courts-are-beginning-to-recognize-that-public-health-powers-while-broad-are-not-a-blank-check Wed, 20 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The recent court decisions overturning COVID-19 lockdowns in Wisconsin and Oregon focused on abstruse issues of statutory interpretation. But both cases also addressed a more fundamental question: Is the rule of law suspended during a public health emergency?</p> <p>In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state officials have imposed unprecedented restrictions on our liberties and livelihoods, acting on the assumption that they can do whatever they think is necessary to protect the public from a potentially deadly disease. The courts, which were initially reluctant to second-guess state responses to COVID-19, are beginning to recognize that public health powers, while broad, are not a blank check.<p>Updated: Wed May 20, 2020</p> 15518c50f6fbb436f6cb0f0f30d4f17b Will SCOTUS Revoke Its License for Police Abuse? This Week the Justices Are Considering 13 Petitions Involving the Pernicious Doctrine of Qualified Immunity for 05/13/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/05/20/will-scotus-revoke-its-license-for-police-abuse-this-week-the-justices-are-considering-13-petitions-involving-the-pernicious-doctrine-of-qualified-immunity Wed, 13 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Based on an erroneous report of a "domestic assault," police officers came to rescue Melanie Kelsay from the man who supposedly was attacking her at a community swimming pool in Wymore, Nebraska. Then one of them actually assaulted her, lifting the 130-pound woman off the ground in a bear hug and throwing her to the ground, breaking her collarbone and knocking her unconscious, because she disobeyed his command to "get back here."</p> <p>Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled that the assault did not violate Kelsay's "clearly established" Fourth Amendment rights, meaning she could not sue the sheriff's deputy who had injured her. Kelsay's appeal of that decision is one of 13 cases involving "qualified immunity" that the U.S. Supreme Court will consider for review on Friday, giving the justices ample opportunity to revisit a misbegotten doctrine that shields police officers from liability for egregious misconduct.<p>Updated: Wed May 13, 2020</p> a06a9d8975d91aeffcc706d7cf4783e6 When Are COVID-19 Control Measures 'Arbitrary' and 'Unreasonable'? Courts So Far Have Not Been Inclined to Ask That Question for 05/06/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/05/20/when-are-covid-19-control-measures-arbitrary-and-unreasonable-courts-so-far-have-not-been-inclined-to-ask-that-question Wed, 06 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When he rejected a legal challenge to Michigan's COVID-19 lockdown last week, Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray quoted at length from Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a 1905 decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld mandatory smallpox vaccination. But he left out the part where the justices said state public health powers, while broad, have limits.</p> <p>We should be discovering those limits at a time when hundreds of millions of Americans have been confined to their homes except for government-approved purposes. But with a few notable exceptions, the courts have not been inclined to scrutinize sweeping COVID-19 control measures that entail unprecedented restrictions on our liberties and livelihoods.<p>Updated: Wed May 06, 2020</p> b023f85e15b0bb2a2e233ae017b10dd9 A Virus Makes the Supreme Court More Transparent: Unprecedented Live Audio Streaming of Oral Arguments Could Signal More Openness for 04/29/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/04/20/a-virus-makes-the-supreme-court-more-transparent-unprecedented-live-audio-streaming-of-oral-arguments-could-signal-more-openness Wed, 29 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The case that the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday morning, a trademark dispute involving the travel service Booking.com, is probably of little interest to the general public. But the manner in which the justices will hear oral arguments &#8212; via a teleconference with a live audio feed for anyone who wants to listen &#8212; is unprecedented and could represent a significant step toward the kind of transparency the Court has long resisted.</p> <p>While the official justification for the unusual arrangement is "public health guidance in response to COVID-19," <span class="column--highlighted-text">the fact that the Court decided to allow online streaming of the oral arguments in 10 sets of cases it will hear from May 4 to May 13 may signal a new openness.</span> As Gabe Roth of the advocacy group Fix the Court notes, "Supreme Court arguments (are) going live," and "all it took was a global pandemic."<p>Updated: Wed Apr 29, 2020</p> 02f6c8c9d0df82d180f003203b55b91c Shouldn't COVID-19's Lethality Inform the Response to It? Evidence That the Virus Is Much Less Deadly Than People Feared Weakens the Case for Maintaining Lockdowns for 04/22/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/04/20/shouldnt-covid-19s-lethality-inform-the-response-to-it-evidence-that-the-virus-is-much-less-deadly-than-people-feared-weakens-the-case-for-maintaining-lockdowns Wed, 22 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When she announced the startling results of a new COVID-19 study on Monday, Los Angeles County's top public health official emphasized that the number of infections far exceeds the official count of confirmed cases. She underplayed another important implication of the study: COVID-19 seems to be far less deadly than many people feared.</p> <p>The way Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer framed the study's results raises a question that policymakers across the country will confront as they consider when and how to loosen sweeping restrictions aimed at curtailing the COVID-19 epidemic. Will they be guided by emerging evidence, or will they use it to support the policies they already favored?<p>Updated: Wed Apr 22, 2020</p> 54535f5c7e361f999868ddad02e4dfa0 Even in a Pandemic, 'Constitutional Rights Still Exist': A Federal Judge Defends Religious Freedom by Blocking a Misguided Ban on Drive-In Easter Services for 04/15/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/04/20/even-in-a-pandemic-constitutional-rights-still-exist-a-federal-judge-defends-religious-freedom-by-blocking-a-misguided-ban-on-drive-in-easter-services Wed, 15 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The celebration of Easter this week was conspicuously constrained by government policies aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19, which affected travel, family gatherings and church services throughout the country. But in an encouraging sign that the Constitution still means something in these extraordinary times, one of those policies was defeated by the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom.</p> <p>On Saturday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer, who had unilaterally banned drive-in Easter services, even when they complied with social distancing rules. "On Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter," U.S. District Judge Justin Walker wrote. "The Mayor's decision is stunning. And it is, 'beyond all reason,' unconstitutional."<p>Updated: Wed Apr 15, 2020</p> dd5b61e8ebc7aa629d33208a06a251a8 How the CDC and the FDA Wrecked the Economy: The Failure to Conduct Early and Wide Testing Left Politicians Ignorant of Basic Facts About the COVID-19 Epidemic for 04/08/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/04/20/how-the-cdc-and-the-fda-wrecked-the-economy-the-failure-to-conduct-early-and-wide-testing-left-politicians-ignorant-of-basic-facts-about-the-covid-19-epidemic Wed, 08 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Public officials across the United States are flying blind against the COVID-19 epidemic. Because of a government-engineered testing fiasco, they do not know how fast the virus is spreading, how many people have been infected by it, how many will die as a result or how many have developed immunity to it.</p> <p>The failure to implement early and wide testing, which was caused by a combination of short-sightedness, ineptitude and bureaucratic intransigence, left politicians scrambling to avoid a hospital crisis by imposing broad business closures and stay-at-home orders. It foreclosed the possibility of a more proactive and targeted approach, focused on identifying carriers, tracing their contacts and protecting the public through isolation and quarantines.<p>Updated: Wed Apr 08, 2020</p> 5f3d2985c9e33aea38af6d56720c987d Will COVID-19 Kill the Constitution? Politicians and the Public Are Alarmingly Willing to Violate Civil Liberties in the Name of Fighting the Epidemic for 04/01/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/03/20/will-covid-19-kill-the-constitution-politicians-and-the-public-are-alarmingly-willing-to-violate-civil-liberties-in-the-name-of-fighting-the-epidemic Wed, 01 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The great American jurist St. George Tucker, writing at the beginning of the 19th century, called the right to armed self-defense "the true palladium of liberty" and "the first law of nature." But California Gov. Gavin Newsom thinks that right, guaranteed by the Second Amendment, is optional.</p> <p>After Newsom ordered "nonessential" businesses to close in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, he let local sheriffs decide whether that category included gun dealers. Newsom's decision, which allowed Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to unilaterally ban the sale of firearms and ammunition, illustrates how readily politicians ignore constitutional rights in the very circumstances where they matter most.<p>Updated: Wed Apr 01, 2020</p> fbf3d456f66e9ab9c85d2e34dc7a3a05 Trump Is Right to Worry About the Cost of Aggressive COVID-19 Control Measures: So Far Politicians Have Been Acting As If Only One Side of the Ledger Matters for 03/25/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/03/20/trump-is-right-to-worry-about-the-cost-of-aggressive-covid-19-control-measures-so-far-politicians-have-been-acting-as-if-only-one-side-of-the-ledger-matters Wed, 25 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump is rightly worried that the "cure" for COVID-19 &#8212; sweeping restrictions on travel, local movement, business activity and work &#8212; could prove to be "worse" than the disease. That may already be true; politicians have been acting as if only one side of this ledger matters.</p> <p>Economists are predicting that the official response to the pandemic could lead to a downturn as bad as or worse than the Great Recession of 2008-09, which cost Americans an estimated $22 trillion. It is hard to see how a loss of that magnitude can be rationally justified.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 25, 2020</p> f11724dc9105e453e3b572dac470dca8 An Epidemic Big Enough to Accommodate Everyone's Wish List: Politicians of Both Parties Use COVID-19 to Advance Their Preexisting Policy Agendas for 03/18/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/03/20/an-epidemic-big-enough-to-accommodate-everyones-wish-list-politicians-of-both-parties-use-covid-19-to-advance-their-preexisting-policy-agendas Wed, 18 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The United States would be better prepared for the COVID-19 epidemic, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., suggested during Sunday night's presidential debate, if it had a single-payer health care system similar to his "Medicare for All" proposal. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading contender for the Democratic nomination, was appropriately skeptical</span>, noting that Italy, the European country hardest hit by the disease, has a single-payer system, and "it doesn't work there."</p> <p>Sanders is hardly alone in using COVID-19 as a pretext to promote a policy he has always favored. But at a time when clarity about government aims and means is crucial, that temptation should be resisted unless there is a plausible connection between the policy and the current crisis.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 18, 2020</p> 2b7a55fbcbb658ffb2abbea177edeb68 The Bloomberg and Steyer Fiascoes Should Give Pause to Speech Restrictionists: No Amount of Money Can Buy Victory for Candidates Who Fail to Persuade Voters for 03/11/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/03/20/the-bloomberg-and-steyer-fiascoes-should-give-pause-to-speech-restrictionists-no-amount-of-money-can-buy-victory-for-candidates-who-fail-to-persuade-voters Wed, 11 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Two and a half weeks after Bernie Sanders slammed Michael Bloomberg for trying to "buy this election," the former New York City mayor dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, having spent $570 million of his own money to win 61 delegates. Tom Steyer, the other billionaire in the race, did even worse, abandoning his campaign after spending more than $250 million and earning zero delegates.</p> <p>Those spectacular failures should give pause to the politicians and activists who argue that money poses a grave threat to democracy &#8212; so grave that the Constitution must be amended to authorize limits on campaign spending. The Bloomberg and Steyer fiascoes show that no amount of money can buy victory for candidates who fail to persuade voters.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 11, 2020</p> 869e8595e91f442a448ef104101e5179 Police Abuse Breeds Disrespect: Defensive Official Reactions to Corruption Encourage the Attitude That Troubles the Attorney General for 03/04/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/03/20/police-abuse-breeds-disrespect-defensive-official-reactions-to-corruption-encourage-the-attitude-that-troubles-the-attorney-general Wed, 04 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The day before Attorney General William Barr complained about disrespect for the police, Harris County, Texas, District Attorney Kim Ogg announced that her office had identified 69 more convicted drug offenders who may have been framed by a veteran Houston narcotics officer. The skepticism that Barr decries cannot be understood without taking into account the sort of corruption that Ogg is investigating.</p> <p>Speaking to police officers in Miami last Friday, Barr condemned "a deeply troubling attitude" toward police. "Far from respecting the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us," he said, overzealous critics "scapegoat and disrespect police officers and disparage the vital role you play in society."<p>Updated: Wed Mar 04, 2020</p> f7ba78533d4536346c36a1e30af420a0 Stone Cold Justice: The Problems With the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Are Real and Troubling, Even in Cases That Do Not Involve the President's Pals for 02/26/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/02/20/stone-cold-justice-the-problems-with-the-federal-sentencing-guidelines-are-real-and-troubling-even-in-cases-that-do-not-involve-the-presidents-pals Wed, 26 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"Roger Stone Did Nothing Wrong!" proclaimed the T-shirts worn by his supporters. Federal prosecutors, by contrast, argued that Stone deserved at least seven years in prison.</p> <p>U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson split the difference last week, sentencing the longtime Donald Trump crony to three years and four months in prison &#8212; a penalty that still seems excessive given the nature and consequences of his crimes. In addition to the perils of presidential pronouncements about ongoing criminal cases, the case highlights the dubious wisdom and fairness of federal sentencing guidelines.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 26, 2020</p> 831fe247551c6c93d0317284b2e906b2 Michael Bloomberg's Constitutional Blinders: The Presidential Candidate's Gun Control Platform, Like His Defense of 'Stop and Frisk,' Sacrifices Civil Liberties on the Altar of Public Safety for 02/19/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/02/20/michael-bloombergs-constitutional-blinders-the-presidential-candidates-gun-control-platform-like-his-defense-of-stop-and-frisk-sacrifices-civil-liberties-on-the-altar-of-public-safety Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Michael Bloomberg has been taking flak from progressives lately because of his longstanding, enthusiastic support for New York City's "stop, question, and frisk" program, a position he renounced just a week before he officially entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. The former mayor's support for stricter gun control laws, by contrast, is not very controversial among Democratic voters, although it reflects the same troubling readiness to sacrifice civil liberties on the altar of public safety.</p> <p>During Bloomberg's administration, the annual number of SQF encounters septupled, from fewer than 100,000 in 2002 to more than 685,000 in 2011. Nearly nine times out of 10, the pedestrians stopped, questioned and frisked by police were black or Hispanic.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 19, 2020</p> 1da41764134bd75336a3e10e1465e873 Tackling 'Very Unfair' Drug Penalties Could Help Trump Win: If He Wants Voters to Take Him Seriously, He Should Stop Pretending the Problem Has Been Solved for 02/12/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/02/20/tackling-very-unfair-drug-penalties-could-help-trump-win-if-he-wants-voters-to-take-him-seriously-he-should-stop-pretending-the-problem-has-been-solved Wed, 12 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Donald Trump, who ran for president in 2016 on a "law and order" platform borrowed from Richard Nixon, is running for reelection as a criminal justice reformer. That transformation would be more convincing and politically potent if it included things he plans to do as well as things he has already done.</p> <p>This month, the Trump campaign ran a Super Bowl ad featuring Alice Johnson, a nonviolent drug offender whose life sentence the president commuted in 2018. The ad also highlighted Trump's support for the FIRST STEP Act, a law that is expected to free more than 3,000 federal drug offenders and shorten the sentences of another 2,000 or so each year. <p>Updated: Wed Feb 12, 2020</p> 61f8eb5868ac502dadc7367c2803b907 Good and Bad Reasons for Acquitting Trump: Republicans Should Think Twice Before Endorsing the Dangerous Myth That Impeachment Requires a Criminal Violation for 02/05/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jacob-sullum/02/20/good-and-bad-reasons-for-acquitting-trump-republicans-should-think-twice-before-endorsing-the-dangerous-myth-that-impeachment-requires-a-criminal-violation Wed, 05 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Marco Rubio's widely mocked justification for acquitting Donald Trump, which conspicuously avoided condemning or approving the president's conduct, was not exactly a profile in courage. The Florida Republican nevertheless laid out a defensible position that rejected a dangerously broad claim by Trump's lawyers, and in that respect, he set an example his fellow senators should follow if they want to preserve impeachment as a remedy for grave abuses of presidential power.</p> <p>"Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a president from office," Rubio said. While many of Trump's critics portrayed that line as self-evidently absurd, there is a valid distinction between impeachment and removal, and between the constitutionality and the wisdom of using those powers.</p> <p>For months, Trump's defenders have been warning us that the promiscuous use of impeachment is a lethal threat to democracy and our constitutional order. Since no Congress has removed a president in the 231 years since George Washington started his first term (although Richard Nixon resigned under threat of impeachment), those concerns seem misplaced as a general matter.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 05, 2020</p> 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>