Blawg Review #154
The World Health Organization has announced that today's theme is protecting health from climate change. Therefore, let's begin this week's anthology of the best of the blawgs with some topical insight and commentary.
Climate change law and policy
William Burns, at the International Environmental Law Blog, lets us know that the latest issue of Carbon & Climate Law Review focuses on the nexus between international trade law and climate change.
Over at The University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog, you can listen to a podcast of Eric Posner and Cass Sunstein discussing the question of whether the U.S. ought to make an effort to address climate change even though its effects are less likely to be felt here than abroad.
The Governator has invited his compadres to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for a get-together on global warming this month. From It's Getting Hot in Here:
[T]he conference will be centered on the unveiling of a policy statement — agreed upon by governors and state environmental-protection officials from across the country — that “effectively calls for a partnership approach between the federal and state government on addressing climate change.”
If you'd like to put in your two cents on the EPA's proposed methodology for measuring greenhouse gas emissions, today's the last day of the comment period. The draft report also inventories greenhouse gas emissions and sinks over the past 15 years. (Hat tip to Jim Holtkamp's Climate Change Law Blog.)
The People's Republic of Massachusetts, and 14 other states, are not convinced that the inventory is enough. The Warming Law blog notes that they had to sue the federales to require the EPA to do its job and actually issue a finding with respect to greenhouse gases and then implement provisions of the Clean Air Act, and since the EPA still hasn't snapped into action, Congress is pushing legislation to mandate action as required by the Supreme Court's decision. This certainly gives us a sense of the current administration's views on the question posed in the Posner-Sunstein discussion linked to above, doesn't it?
In a similar vein, as Calvin Massey at the Faculty Lounge points out, a certain set of attitudes about folks who are not from around here has led to the feds' insisting that national security (in the form of the Mexican border fence) trumps environmental regulation.
And what else are the federales doing instead of looking out for the environment? Promoting a Blueprint for a Modernized Financial Regulatory Structure, complete with "liquidity provisioning." See Barry Barnett's Blawgletter for a short but scathing assessment. On the question of whether the recent Wall Street bailout by the Fed is kosher, see David Zaring's post at Conglomerate. Next on the agenda: more and bigger class-action lawsuits! (Hat tip to SOX First.) And for a peek through the looking-glass at some interesting state-level regulatory behavior, consider the hurricane insurance market in Florida. And hurricanes are made worse by you-know-what.
Scott Deatherage's Law and the Environment brings us the news that insurance industry analysts reportedly put climate change at the top of their list of challenges facing global businesses. So that means help is on the way, right? Well, since concern over health care, the economy and the war in Iraq have been vying for the top slot in surveys of the broader population over the past year or so, and we're making such stellar progress on those three fronts, I'd have to say we'll have this climate change thing sewn up by lunchtime tomorrow.
Now, no climate change edition of Blawg Review could be complete without a nod to the man who both invented the internet and got a Nobel Peace Prize for his climate change movie. Last week, Al Gore kicked off a new advocacy campaign on climate change. From the Washington Post:
While "An Inconvenient Truth" urged viewers to fully inflate their car tires and to install compact fluorescent light bulbs to combat global warming, Gore said he is now focused on ensuring that the United States enacts a national carbon emission cap and ratifies a new global pact on climate change in the next three years.
The NY Times' Dot Earth blog considers the campaign and asks: "Madison Avenue Sells S.U.V.'s. Can it Sell Climate Action?"
Here in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, some of my friends buy carbon offsets for their cars; making driving and parking less appealing might help make some inroads, too. A paperless office would also be a step in the right direction; Evan Schaeffer points to a paperless office wiki from his Illinois Trial Practice Blog. My own paperless office is a work in progress.
Other folks here in the People's Republic got an early start celebrating World Health Day; heck, some tried to eliminate their carbon footprint for Lent.
Body parts and the law
Speaking of footprints, Jack Balkin alludes to them in describing "skyscraper originalism" -- a constitutional theory he rejects, in favor of "framework originalism," in a dense but worthwhile post (one of a series) at Balkinization. (When skyscrapers allude to footprints, you know my dirt lawyer roots are showing.)
Ann Reed, at Deliberations, highlights the muck and mire litigators can step into by vouching for witnesses.
In the public navel-gazing department, the readers of entrails at SCOTUSblog decided to do their part for the environment by eliminating some hot air: they've disabled comments on their blog. Kent Scheidegger at Crime and Consequences sheds a tear.
At Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield says we'd all better be careful about where we shed a tear, or some skin, or any other DNA-bearing material, since we ought to expect a bunch of spooks following us, collecting and cataloging our DNA without probable cause and entering it all in a big database "just in case." He also argues in favor of requiring specific authorization for law enforcement to do just that, though it seems to me that nobody ought to have an expectation of privacy with respect to anything left behind (like fingerprints before folks thought more about wiping them off). (I do, however, think that folks should have at least some expectation of privacy in relation to online financial and health care records, though I know that makes me old-fashioned.)
On the positive side of DNA evidence, The Innocence Project has a website and blog that highlight the cases of exonerated former convicts -- 215 to date -- who served a combined total of nearly 1,000 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. Check out the information there and spread the word.
Speaking of evidence and innocence, Law is Cool presents a detailed look at the latest proceedings against one of eighteen purported Islamic militants in Toronto.
Writing at Lawgarithms, Denise Howell reports on copyright law as seen by various folks at the recent Tech Policy Summit held in La-La Land. No surprises there: where you stand depends on where you sit.
Continuing to look out west, Kevin LaCroix of The D&O Diary digs into a Wilmer Hale report on securities litigation, asks "Are West Coast Companies More Likely to be Sued?" and finds fault with the report's methodology supporting a conclusion on regional trends.
Also on the left coast, Roommates.com went too far, according to the Ninth Circuit, in developing discriminatory roommate profiles for its customers. (But what are they supposed to do, take all comers? What's the point of having a roommate-screening website if you can't screen roommates?) Jonathan Frieden comments on the case at E-Commerce Law. This reminds me of the cases brought against assisted living facilities for discharging residents who require skilled nursing facility services, alleging that they were violating fair housing laws by discriminating against the old and sick. (What are they supposed to do, care for a population they are specifically neither licensed nor staffed to care for?)
Even further west, professional baseball in the Land of the Rising Sun has a bone to pick with Major League Baseball. Simon Lester takes a crack at this at the International Economic Law and Policy Blog.
Back East, across the pond, and even further east
Back East, Iranian antiquities in Boston museums got drawn into a silly Catch-22. Thanks to Clif Burns at ExportLawBlog for a glimpse of some circular reasoning.
Also here in Boston, a baseball fan (perhaps a Yankees fan deep in enemy territory) was attacked by a raptor at Fenway Park. The piece on the Sports Law Blog considering who might be liable was written by the serendipitously named Geoffrey Rapp.
New Hampshire blogger Kathleen Seidel, critic of autism vaccine litigation, has been hit with a subpoena by an autism vaccine plaintiff's attorney. Walter Olson, at Overlawyered, sees the subpoena as nothing more than intimidation and a fishing expedition. There's the concern that this is just the sort of thing that can chill blogging.
All across the U.S., some large not-for-profit hospitals have been faring better financially, and that always gets the attention of regulators and advocates. See the WSJ Health Blog and Ezra Klein at The American Prospect for more. For further discussion of for-profit vs. not-for-profit health care in the U.S., see the posts I linked to here at HealthBlawg last week.
Another trend commented on by the blogerati this week is the rating of professionals through online social networks. Exhibit A: Doctors (Jane Sarasohn Kahn, writing at The Health Care Blog). Exhibit B: Lawyers (Jordan Furlong, writing at Law21).
Looking across the pond to the E.U., Arthur Leonard, posting on his Leonard Link, highlighted a recent decision of the European Court of Justice holding that a same-sex partner's pension ought to be paid to a surviving partner -- same treatment as a surviving spouse.
In the wheels-within-wheels department, Turkey's courts are the setting for fascinating gyrations, careening from the too secular to the not secular enough. The political party in power when the courts lifted the ban on headscarves in Turkey's secular society are now being attacked for being anti-secular. See Elena Baylis's post at IntLawGrrls.
Affecting military intelligence gathering operations from Iraq to Gitmo, the infamous Yoo memorandum continues to generate a lot of comment. This week, Eric Posner, Marty Lederman, and Eric Posner again, went at it hammer-and-tongs, writing at Slate's blawg, Convictions. See also Stuart Benjamin's conservative-baiting (and links to the memo) at The Volokh Conspiracy. Interestingly, Posner picks up on Balkin's construct of the living constitution -- they just differ on where and how it lives. For all you bloggers on your way to Gitmo for a visit, Howard Bashman, at How Appealing, links to media policy and ground rules for the Guantanamo Bay naval station.
Stranger than fiction and April Fool's Day
David Fraser's Canadian Privacy Law Blog highlights the plight -- and the lawsuit -- of Mr. and Mrs. Boring (I kid you not), who object to having their house's exterior featured on Google Street View. They said they lived on a private way to get away from just this sort of thing. Did they change their names to avoid notoreity too?
Finally, last week included April Fool's Day. I got to poke fun at an insurance lawyer who wants to be a pirate; Stephen Bainbridge got to pretend to be named SEC commissioner, and my compatriots at Grand Rounds got to play treasure hunt in a multi-blog edition of the medbloggers' carnival. (If you can guess which of these bloggers I saw at our kids' soccer game this weekend, you can coach next week.) Top honors in the hoodwinking department, however, go to Eric Turkewitz -- who probably trades baseball cards like carbon emissions credits -- for his masterful straight-faced fantasy baseball case at SCOTUS post (together with his dutiful elucidation of the joke the next day at his NY Personal Injury Law Blog).
Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions on how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.
-- David Harlow