We constantly hear how high property taxes are – and for good reason! Of all the taxes collected in Texas, property taxes account for over 50%. Can’t we shift some of the burden from property taxes to other taxes such as sales, bed, severance, gas or others? If so, how and more importantly who can make these changes happen?
The theft of intellectual property by China has dominated the headlines – and for good reason. Various estimates have placed Chinese theft of intellectual property into the billions of dollars annually. Ultimately, that is wealth stolen from the paychecks of Americans. But another billion-dollar threat to IP is lurking deep in the heart of Texas – again.
As a longtime supporter of Senator John Cornyn, I was grateful to read about a bipartisan bill he introduced alongside Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Van Hollen (D-MD). This bill, the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, was introduced in hopes of reversing the recent trend of teens and minors vaping.
As flattered as I was to attract George Will’s attention—in his 4th of July column, no less—being criticized by a Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist left me somewhat perplexed, for several reasons. Allow me to explain. First, although I have engaged Will directly in the past, he used his nationally-syndicated column to take issue with something I had written in response to someone else—specifically, Ed Erler (a disciple of Harry Jaffa) regarding Robert Bork’s view of the Constitution.
Protecting intellectual property is a critical component of our nation’s founding and is essential to strengthening our economy, however flawed jury awards disconnected from underlying legal doctrine could have disastrous effects on collaboration and innovation. The United States Constitution allows Congress to write laws granting “authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries”. In the spirit of this constitutional objective, the Uniform Law Commission promulgated the Uniform Trade Secrets Act forty years ago to establish clarity about what a trade secret is and how misappropriation of trade secrets should be punished. To date 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have adopted the uniform code.
In January, the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) issued a landmark decision in Procopio v. Wilkie. This case established that US Navy veterans who served within the twelve nautical miles of the coast of the Republic of Vietnam ("blue water veterans") from January 9, 1962, to May 7, 1975, are entitled to VA disability compensation benefits for medical conditions shown to result from exposure to herbicides such as Agent Orange. This marks a change in the established VA law (38 USC § 1116), which since its implementation in 1991 has provided for presumptive benefits for Vietnam veterans who served in Vietnam during the specified time period and have a diagnosis of one of the medical conditions listed in the statute.
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.”
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.