Last week, a Texas appeals court began the process of hearing an historic case between two real estate valuation companies that led to one of the largest trade secret verdicts in American history. While this recent hearing was focused on a discreet motion, the appeals court’s decision could have significant implications when considering the entirety of the case.
Across the country, many large cities sacrifice public safety to political correctness, catering to minority voters by hamstringing—or even demonizing–law enforcement. Some progressive cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, openly condone urban chaos in the form of rampant homelessness and public drug use, despite local residents’ vociferous objections. Defying these trends, in one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing cities, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley presides over the third-safest major metro area in the United States.
Utopian social movements often degenerate into unruly—and sometimes vicious—mobs. During the French Revolution, the slogan “liberty, equality, fraternity” quickly led to the guillotine as the Jacobins unleashed the Reign of Terror. We are witnessing a softer version of this at Harvard, America’s most elite university, where Ronald Sullivan, an African-American law professor, faces professional retribution for the sin of representing a (presumed innocent) client (Harvey Weinstein) accused of sexual assault. Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz denounced the incident as “The new McCarthyism comes to Harvard.”
The ability to take medicine to treat our ailments is something we take for granted. Medicine helps to not only prolong life but also helps to improve our quality of life.
San Antonio, a predominantly Hispanic city named for a Catholic saint, has persisted in its crusade against the popular fast-food chain Chick-fil-A. In reaction to the conservative religious beliefs of its owners, the city council has barred Chick-fil-A from operating at San Antonio’s airport. So far, advocates against the restaurant have the upper hand, though that could soon change. Voters will soon have an opportunity to weigh in on the controversy in a local election.
The concerns surrounding false news, or what is more commonly referred to as “fake news,” not only seems to be growing here in the United States but expanding across the globe, with countries stretching from Southeast Asia to the European Union combating inaccurate reporting.
When asked by Law & Liberty if I would be interested in reviewing Lawrence Wright’s new book, God Save Texas, I had mixed feelings. I greatly enjoyed two of Wright’s previous books, The Looming Tower (2006) and Going Clear (2013), both deeply-researched and impressively-reported works of nonfiction. Wright’s journalism also inspired the acclaimed documentary Three Identical Strangers (2018), which fascinated me. Wright is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and longtime staff writer for The New Yorker, who happens to live in Austin, Texas (as I do), the state capital and the home of the flagship campus of the University of Texas. Wright is unquestionably a talented writer knowledgeable about his (and my) adopted state.
Over the past several years, there has been a dramatic increase in litigation brought by local governments across Texas utilizing outside lawyers hired on a contingent-fee basis. Much of this litigation has been driven by law firms that have engaged in aggressive marketing efforts, enticing local officials with the prospect of a financial windfall at no risk to them. The nature of these lawsuits varies widely, but includes numerous lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers, automobile manufacturers, construction companies, and other businesses.
No one is surprised when cities like San Francisco, New York City, and Seattle enact policies driven by the latest progressive imperatives. In Texas, where I live, observers have long believed that a statewide Republican majority would insulate the Lone Star State from such pressure. Capital city Austin’s traditionally liberal politics—its unofficial slogan is “Keep Austin Weird”—have usually seemed like an exception to the statewide rule. But now it appears that San Antonio, the state’s second-biggest city (and seventh-largest in the U.S.), has gotten “woke,” too, blacklisting a well-respected business because of its owners’ political contributions and religious beliefs.
Claremont-trained political philosophers represent some of the strongest voices in conservative intellectual circles, but many of them share a flawed view of the Constitution, expressed vigorously—and sometimes splenetically—by the late Harry V. Jaffa. Edward Erler’s recent essay, “Don’t Read the Constitution the Way Robert Bork Did,” channels both Jaffa’s truculent spirit and the doctrinaire position of West Coast Straussians, complete with familiar—albeit irrelevant–references to Abraham Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, Erler’s essay illustrates why the Left’s conception of constitutional law is ascendant while conservatives continue to dither: Unlike progressives, discordant conservatives have been largely ineffective in articulating—let alone advancing—a coherent vision of constitutional law.
In the two years since Congress overhauled trade secret laws, a spike of court filings and a record-setting judgement could signal the opening of a new frontier in misusing intellectual property law reminiscent of patent trolling which has become a drag on economic growth.
Last year’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME (2018) is properly seen as a landmark ruling in the area of compelled speech (e.g., here and here), but it is more than that. By overruling Abood v. Detroit Board of Education(1977), the Supreme Court in Janus acknowledged that its extension of private-sector labor law precedents concerning union-security clauses to the public sector was erroneous. I have previously written about “the road to Abood” (here and here), and explained why the Court’s poorly-reasoned decisions under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) should not govern arrangements involving government employees. Justice Alito, who authored Janus and the decisions leading up to it, scathingly dissected the Court’s NLRA precedents, most of which were issued during the heyday of the Warren Court.
On February 28, 2019, I was honored to speak at the University of Virginia School of Law, at a day-long program sponsored by the UVA student chapter of the Federalist Society, entitled “The Future of Originalism: Conflicts and Controversies.” Congratulations to Jenna Adamson (President of the UVA student chapter), her colleagues, and the participating faculty, speakers, and moderators (including Judges Thomas B. Griffith, Diane S. Sykes, and John K. Bush) for planning and executing a terrific event. At lunch, Clark Neily and I debated the topic “Judicial Engagement v. Judicial Restraint: Equally Compatible with Originalism?” The moderator was UVA Professor Lillian BeVier.
Earlier this month, I testified in Austin about our property taxes with state legislators. Let me assure you that Chicken Little is alive and well in the halls of our state capitol. They have convinced most everyone that Texas is one of the most taxed states in the country, that property taxes are skyrocketing out of control and seniors are being taxed out of their homes.
It is not news that Texas law has long required businesses to respect the terms of their written agreements. Businesses remain in Texas and many new ones are drawn here, in part, because they know they can rely on the written agreements they enter into and expect the rule of law to be applied to everyone.
Imagine how you’d feel if you didn’t get a promotion because of your religion or skin color. The only good news would be that you could probably sue your employer for discrimination.
I have reminisced at length about my student days at the University of Texas School of Law (here), and also expressed concern about the leftward drift of the Texas Law Review, on whose editorial board I served during 1979-80 (here). Recent events have only heightened my concerns (here). Specifically, on February 7-8, 2019, the TLR is co-hosting (with the left-leaning American Constitution Society) a constitutional law symposium at the law school, entitled “Reclaiming—and Restoring—Constitutional Norms,” that appears to be little more than an anti-Trump political rally. The announcement is here.
Have you traveled an interstate near you lately and noticed 18-wheelers parked on the shoulder? It happens so frequently on Interstate 10 between San Antonio and Beaumont that it isn’t uncommon to see as many as seven or eight big rigs pulled over on the shoulder. Is it legal for 18-wheelers, commercial trucks, and the like to park there? Is the shoulder lane available for parking to anyone at all? The answers to these questions might surprise you.