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The Rise of Zoning and the Decline of Affordable Housing

Emily Hamilton August 23, 2016
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The New York Times recently published a series of infographics demonstrating the extent to which current zoning laws restrict development in Manhattan. New York City’s zoning code has grown increasingly binding since it was first introduced by planners in 1916. Relying on data from Quantierra, a New York real estate firm, the graphics show that forty percent of existing buildings on the iconic island would not be permitted by today’s rules. [Read More]

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A Response to Bill Otis’s "Baker’s Dozen" by John G. Malcolm

"Super-Recognizers" Bring New Edge to Policing

Jonathan Keim August 23, 2016
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The New Yorker has a fascinating article about a special unit established in London's Metropolitan Police Service that has peculiar -- in every sense of the word -- expertise in facial recognition: 

Most police precincts have an officer or two with a knack for recalling faces, but the Met (as the Metropolitan Police Service is known) is the first department in the world to create a specialized unit. The team is called the super-recognizers, and each member has taken a battery of tests, administered by scientists, to establish this uncanny credential.

Read the whole thing. 

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Photo Credit: CGinspiration (link)

(Temporary?) Reprieve for Students at California Religious Colleges

Gregory S. Baylor August 23, 2016
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Students at California’s religious colleges have dodged a very large caliber bullet . . . for now.

As explained in a prior blog post, earlier versions of California Senate Bill 1146 would have forced the state’s religious colleges to choose between following their faith and accepting students who receive state financial aid. [Read More]

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Roundtable at APSA 2016: Congress, Delegation, and the Administrative State

Timothy Courtney August 22, 2016
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The Federalist Society's Faculty Division will host a roundtable discussion, titled "Congress, Delegation, and the Administrative State," at the 2016 American Political Science Association's Annual Meeting in Philadelphia on September 2nd. We invite anyone planning to attend the conference to join us for what promises to be an excellent discussion featuring:

  • Lee Drutman, New America Foundation & The Johns Hopkins University
  • Gordon Lloyd, Pepperdine University & Ashbrook Center
  • Daniel H. Lowenstein, UCLA School of Law
  • Neomi Rao, George Mason University Antonin Scalia School of Law
  • Moderator: Michael Uhlmann, Claremont Graduate University

For full details and to read the panel abstract, click here.​ ​If you plan to attend, please email christopher.goffos@fed-soc.org to let us know.

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A Response to Bill Otis’s "Baker’s Dozen" by John G. Malcolm

Sign Crimes

Christina Sandefur August 21, 2016
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Entrepreneurs wishing to advertise new products or services are often thwarted by local ordinances that censor their efforts to communicate certain messages to the public. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Reed v. Town of Gilbert that such restrictions are unconstitutional, and struck down an unfair and confusing set of restrictions imposed on signs by the Town of Gilbert, Arizona. But many cities across the country continue to threaten small business owners with fines and even jail time for putting up a “For Lease” sign or a banner offering free meals to veterans.Entrepreneurs wishing to advertise new products or services are often thwarted by local ordinances that censor their efforts to communicate certain messages to the public. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Reed v. Town of Gilbert that such restrictions are unconstitutional, and struck down an unfair and confusing set of restrictions imposed on signs by the Town of Gilbert, Arizona. But many cities across the country continue to threaten small business owners with fines and even jail time for putting up a “For Lease” sign or a banner offering free meals to veterans. [Read More]

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Chevron Deference in the Circuit Courts: An Empirical Study

Stephen Vaden August 17, 2016
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Recent opinions from the Supreme Court and policy debates within the halls of Washington have placed a renewed focus on the amount of deference administrative agencies receive when interpreting statues. Kent Barnett of the University of Georgia Law School and Christopher Walker of Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law have written a draft law review article entitled Chevron in the Circuit Courts that empirically examines the effect of so-called Chevron, and its weaker cousin Skidmore, deference on cases heard by the federal intermediate appellate courts. Administrative law practitioners should keep the article close at hand. [Read More]

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Photo Credit: Victoria/DollarPhotoClub (link)

America to hand off Internet in under two months

Timothy Courtney August 17, 2016
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The Washington Examiner reports:

The Department of Commerce is set to hand off the final vestiges of American control over the Internet to international authorities in less than two months, officials have confirmed.

The department will finalize the transition effective Oct. 1, Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling wrote on Tuesday, barring what he called "any significant impediment."

The move means the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which is responsible for interpreting numerical addresses on the Web to a readable language, will move from U.S. control to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a multistakeholder body that includes countries like China and Russia.

Good call? Read the full article, and listen to our Teleforum podcast with John Kneuer and Shane Tews to learn more and decide for yourself. 

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Who’s ‘Weaponizing the First Amendment’—the Left or the Right?

Brian Miller August 17, 2016
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On June 28th, after previously splitting 4-4 on the case, the Supreme Court declined a Petition to Rehear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which involved a First Amendment challenge to laws requiring non-union public employees to pay agency fees to unions. The case is over and for now, agency fees remain in place in 25 states. Like many other First Amendment cases raised in the past few years, this case was – and still is – derided in the media and by its legal opponents as a thinly veiled conservative attempt to “weaponize” the First Amendment as a vehicle to advance conservative policies.

Truth be told, there is a trend to look at First Amendment issues through a partisan lens – but conservatives aren’t behind it. [Read More]

State Courts & AGs

State Court Docket Watch News Clips: 8/16/2016

Zach Mayo August 16, 2016
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  • Kathleen Kane has resigned her post as Pennsylvania Attorney General in the wake of her conviction on multiple felony charges, including perjury and criminal conspiracy. The incidents relate to her leaking grand jury deliberations. Read more about the conviction here and her resignation here, both from The New York Times.

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UN panel threatens drug discovery: As a patient, you could be denied

Timothy Courtney August 16, 2016
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Paul Michel at the Orlando Sentinel reports:

In America and across the globe, about 7,000 new medicines are in development. There's no question that many of them will save lives. Unfortunately, the United Nations is working to degrade the innovation ecosystem that makes such breakthroughs possible.

In 2015, UN officials convened a powerful new panel to study ways to improve impoverished countries' access to lifesaving medicines. By all indications, that panel will soon push to weaken intellectual property protections on medicines.

That would be a huge mistake. Such a policy shift would surely slow and possibly stop the creation of new diagnostic tests and drugs, depriving patients all over the world of treatments like immune therapies and gene editing — the biggest medical breakthroughs in a century.

Read the full article

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