Questioning New Standards for Civil Disobedience

An op-ed by Cass Sunstein. Civil disobedience is an honorable American tradition. The Boston Tea Party helped spark the Revolutionary War, and during the 1960s civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. celebrated civil disobedience as “expressing the highest respect for law.” Invoking King’s idea (if not his name), prominent conservatives are now calling for new forms of disobedience. Some of their arguments are hard to accept, but they have a kind of internal logic, and they are resonating in influential circles. Consider Charles Murray’s spirited new book, “By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission,” which is rooted in an extraordinary claim: “America is no longer the land of the free.” The source of this unfreedom is not NSA surveillance, police misconduct or mass incarceration. It is the rise of the modern regulatory state, from the New Deal to the present, which has subordinated our founding commitment to freedom.

Why the Texas Abortion Law May Stand

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. In the wake of the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upholding a Texas law that would close many of the state’s abortion clinics because they don’t comply with new regulations, you might be thinking that the conservative court’s decision can’t possibly survive Supreme Court review. Think again.

Cleveland’s Alternative Path to Justice

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. The Ohio law being used by community leaders in Cleveland to seek prosecution of police officers involved in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice is highly unusual: It allows any citizen to petition a magistrate or judge to initiate prosecution, instead of relying on the usual process where the decision is up to a professional, in this case the Cuyahoga County prosecutor. Although very few states have such laws, they may be useful in situations where the prosecutors are compromised — for example, by an ongoing relationship with the police force. But the Ohio law is also, in a way, a throwback to a time before prosecutors — and before police.

Are Dark Days Ahead for Turkey?

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. So it turns out voters don’t like it when you build a $600 million presidential palace. The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, lost its majority in Sunday’s Turkish elections for the first time in 12 years. A new pro-Kurdish opposition party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, crossed the 10 percent threshold necessary to get into parliament. But it’s too soon for Erdogan’s enemies to start celebrating his downfall — or for democracy lovers anywhere to be entirely sanguine at this result.

Obama Holds Trump Card Over Passports

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. Remember the days of the George W. Bush administration, when conservatives liked executive power and liberals criticized it? Those days are gone. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court’s liberals powered a 6-3 decision giving President Barack Obama exclusive executive power to decide how to label the birthplace of Jerusalem on U.S. passports. The much-anticipated case, Zivotofsky v. Kerry, will become a landmark in the constitutional law of the separation of powers. But the weird politics of its lineup will confound students for generations, unless they take account of both changes in the party in the White House and the gravitational pull of U.S. Middle East policy.

A dearth of nutrition in school lunches

U.S. school cafeterias are starved for funds, lack facilities, and are staffed by workers who often know more about wielding “box cutters and can crushers” than chefs’ knives, according to Ann Cooper, a onetime celebrity chef turned Colorado lunch lady and school food reformer….Emily Broad Leib, director of Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, said that Congress is now considering reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which expires in September. Among other things, the act provides nutritional guidelines for school lunches, and must be reauthorized every five years. The last reauthorization, in 2010, took significant steps toward improving the nutritional quality of school lunches, Leib said. Possible changes this time include increasing the amount of federal reimbursement for meals, taking steps to increase student participation in the program, and providing grants for kitchen equipment and staff training.

Lessons from Kirkland’s ‘unfortunate and unethical’ Mylan mess

The Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva was quick to cut its losses yesterday after U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Lenihan of Pittsburgh recommended a preliminary injunction barring Kirkland & Ellis from continuing to advise Teva in its hostile bid for Mylan, an occasional Kirkland client since 2013. Kirkland announced that it will file an objection to Judge Lenihan’s recommendation, which will be reviewed by U.S. Chief District Judge Joy Conti, but in the meantime, Teva hired Sullivan & Cromwell to replace the firm in the Mylan takeover battle….In an expert report for Mylan that Judge Lenihan ultimately considered very persuasive, Harvard Law professor John Coates argued that virtually all previous litigation could be considered related to an unsolicited bid because so many factors shape the hostile takeover process.

Is Obama Trying to Sway the Supreme Court?

As President Obama took the stage at a hotel ballroom on Tuesday to deliver his latest defense of the Affordable Care Act, you had to wonder who exactly he was trying to reach. Was it the members of the Catholic Health Association—the supportive audience in front of him? Republicans in Congress? The divided public at large? Or perhaps, was it just the two particular Catholics—Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy—who at this moment hold the fate of Obama’s healthcare law in their hands?…Yet there’s less evidence that even the most persuasive use of the bully pulpit can sway the justices. “Would it help or hurt? I can’t imagine it’ll make any difference, and I can’t imagine he thinks it’ll make any difference,” said Charles Fried, the Harvard law professor who argued cases before the court as Ronald Reagan’s solicitor general. (Fried has weighed in on the Obama administration’s side in King v. Burwell.)

Uber promotes subprime auto loans to increase driver pool

…Uber, with a head-spinning valuation of $50 billion, has become a dominant force in the passenger transportation industry in large part by luring more drivers to its platform than anyone else. In an effort to maintain that edge and expand its pool of self-employed drivers beyond those who already own a car, the company has been steering potential drivers with bad credit to subprime lenders whose leases lock borrowers into years of weekly payments at sky-high interest rates…Roger Bertling, an attorney and Harvard Law School instructor who specializes in predatory lending, says these terms are bad even compared with those generally used with subprime borrowing. “That [lease] is as bad as any I’ve seen on the predatory lending level for autos,” he says of the Santander agreement. While borrowers with poor credit always face high interest rates, Bertling cites the automatic weekly payment deductions and restrictions against personal use of the vehicle as being unique in the subprime auto loan industry.

Cell phone industry sues Berkeley over warning-labels law

The cell-phone industry, leery of any attempt to link its products to radiation, sued Berkeley on Monday over a new ordinance requiring consumers to be warned that carrying a switched-on phone in their pockets or bra might exceed federal safety standards….Berkeley officials said they were confident the ordinance would be upheld. Councilman Max Anderson, the measure’s lead sponsor, said the warning language was taken directly from manufacturers’ statements in product manuals. Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, helped to draft the ordinance and has agreed to defend it without charge. “I believe Berkeley has a right to assure its residents know of the existing safety recommendations,” Lessig said by e-mail.