Free Lunch Podcast featuring Gus Hurwitz and Michael Daugherty

Mike Daugherty is the CEO of LabMD, a medical testing lab. He has spent most of the last decade defending his company against charges that it had deficient cybersecurity practices. The early years of this battle are recorded in his book, "The Devil Inside the Beltway". In so doing, he has become the only litigant to challenge the basic authority that underlies more than 200 enforcement actions relating to cybersecurity and online privacy that the FTC has brought over the past 15 years. Every one of the 200+ litigants before him – including some of the largest companies in the world – have settled with the FTC, creating an unquestioned and untested belief that the FTC has broad authority to regulate in these areas.

Following oral arguments last month before a panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, it seems entirely possible that he will prevail. In so doing, he may well topple key pillars of the FTC’s cybersecurity and online privacy edifice.

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  • Michael J. Daugherty, Founder, President and CEO, LabMD

  • Gus Hurwitz, Assistant Professor of Law, Nebraska College of Law
Environmental Law & Property Rights Practice Group Podcast

The taking of private property for development projects has caused controversy in many nations, where it has often been used to benefit powerful interests at the expense of the general public. In their recent book, Eminent Domain: A Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press), editors Ilya Somin, Iljoong Kim, and Hojun Lee use a common framework to analyze the law and economics of eminent domain around the world. They show that seemingly disparate nations face a common set of problems in seeking to regulate the condemnation of private property by the state. They include the tendency to forcibly displace the poor and politically weak for the benefit of those with greater influence, disputes over compensation, and resort to condemnation in cases where it destroys more economic value than it creates. With contributions from leading scholars in the fields of property law and economics, the book offers a comparative perspective and considers a wide range of possible solutions to these problems. Professor Richard Epstein and Professor Ilya Somin joined us to discuss this interesting book.


  • Professor Richard A. Epstein, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
  • Professor Ilya Somin, Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University
SCOTUScast 7-18-17 featuring David A. Cortman

On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court decided Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. The Learning Center is a licensed preschool and daycare that is operated by Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc (Trinity Lutheran). Though it incorporates religious instruction into its curriculum, the school is open to all children. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grants to organizations that qualify for resurfacing of playgrounds. Trinity Lutheran’s application for such a grant was denied under Article I, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution, which reads “no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, section or denomination of religion.” Trinity Lutheran sued, arguing that DNR’s denial violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of religion and speech. The district court dismissed the suit and a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause did not compel the State to disregard the broader anti-establishment principle reflected in its own constitution.

By a vote of 7-2, the United States Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Eighth Circuit and remanded the case. In an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held that the DNR’s policy violated the rights of Trinity Lutheran under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by denying the Church an otherwise available public benefit on account of its religious status. 

Justices Kennedy, Alito, and Kagan joined the Chief Justice’s majority opinion in full, and Justices Thomas and Gorsuch joined except as to footnote 3. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in part, in which Justice Gorsuch joined. Justice Gorsuch filed an opinion concurring in part, in which Justice Thomas joined. Justice Breyer filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Ginsburg joined. 

And now, to discuss the case, we have David A. Cortman, who was lead counsel in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley and is Senior Counsel and Vice President of U.S. Litigation, Alliance Defending Freedom.

SCOTUScast 7-18-17 featuring Vikrant Reddy

On May 30, 2017, the Supreme Court decided Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions. In 2009, Juan Esquivel-Quintana, who was then 21, pleaded no-contest to a California statutory rape offense after engaging in consensual sex with a 17-year old. California criminalizes “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor who is more than three years younger than the perpetrator,” and for this purpose considers anyone under the age of 18 to be a minor. The Department of Homeland Security then initiated removal proceedings against Esquivel-Quintana under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which allows for the removal of any alien convicted of an aggravated felony, including “sexual abuse of a minor”--though it does not define that phrase. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denied Esquivel-Quintana’s appeal, concluding that the age difference between Esquivel-Quintana and the minor was sufficiently meaningful for their sexual encounter to qualify as abuse of a minor. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, deferring to the BIA’s interpretation, denied Esquivel-Quintana’s petition for further review.

The question before the Supreme Court was whether a conviction under a state statute criminalizing consensual sexual intercourse between a 21-year-old and a 17-year-old qualifies as sexual abuse of a minor under the INA. 

By a vote of 8-0, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Sixth Circuit. In an opinion by Justice Thomas, the Court held that in the context of statutory rape offenses that criminalize sexual intercourse based solely on the ages of the participants, the generic federal definition of "sexual abuse of a minor" requires the age of the victim to be less than 16. Because the California statute of conviction did not fall categorically within that generic federal definition, Esquivel-Quintana’s conviction was not an aggravated felony under the INA. All other members joined in Justice Thomas’s opinion except Justice Gorsuch, who took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. 

To discuss the case, we have Vikrant Reddy, Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute.

Short video featuring Richard Epstein

How can an association that doesn’t own property make rules that govern it? Professor Richard Epstein of NYU School of Law discusses the principles governing complex property arrangements, giving an overview of the Neponsit case, which created a modern rule for how a property can be governed by an organization and not an individual owner.  This development makes condo associations and other more efficient uses of property possible.

Professor Epstein provides an alternative to the conventional view that property rights are arbitrarily created by the state, and therefore can be changed at will by the state; a few simple rules, he argues, are universal principles of social organization, consistent across time and culture, which form the basis of social gains.

Professor Epstein is the inaugural Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at NYU School of Law, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Professor of Law Emeritus and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago.