Category: Society

Are Handshakes Soon To Be Barred In The Workplace?

For lawyers and other professionals, a good firm handshakes is a practiced art. It may however soon be declared inappropriate with all other forms of physical contact according to a recent survey on business seeking to combat inappropriate touching in the workplace. A survey by TotalJobs found that three out of four people want all physical contact banned at work. Other employment experts have also discussed the possible ban on any contact of any kind to combat sexual harassment. Companies are considering a total ban on contact, including handshakes.

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Lawyer Sues His Own Son To Block Use Of Legal Name

This blog regularly looks at copyright and trademark claims, particularly with regard to efforts to claim common terms or names as property. A case this week however has the distinction of a lawyer claiming a trademark violation against his own son for using his legally given name. George Sink Sr. is suing George Sink Jr. for the confusion raised by the two law firm names.

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Jeh Johnson Withdraws As USC Law Graduation Speaker After Protests

As many of you know, I have long lamented the rising intolerance shown at colleges and universities over free speech. Both faculty and students now regularly fight to prevent people from speaking rather than allow a diverse array of views and experiences on campuses. Fortunately, most law schools have sufficient free speech advocates to counter such moves. However, this week the University of Southern California Law School joined this ignoble list when the school pushed Jeh Johnson, the former Obama Secretary of Homeland Security, to withdraw as the commencement speaker. Johnson was a wonderful choice for the graduation and could share not just his incredible career but his powerful personal story with the law students. Instead, he was told by Dean Andrew Guzman that there were “concerns” about his appearance.

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Sandburg’s Rule: Congress Shifts Attention Away From Mueller’s 400-Page Report To Focus On Barr’s 4-Page Summary

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the hearing with Attorney General Bill Barr in the Special Counsel investigation. Barr’s testimony reaffirmed many of the points of the column, including the fact that Robert Mueller was not told that he could not reach a conclusion of obstruction. Indeed, Barr testified that both he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told Mueller that he should reach a conclusion. As Mueller’s superiors, that should have resolved any question of a “policy” of Main Justice. However, according to Barr, Mueller not only did not reach a conclusion but he also disregarded the express request that his staff identify grand jury information to allow for a rapid release of a redacted report.

Notably, Barr also confirmed that just eight percent of the public report was redacted — largely to remove material that could undermine ongoing investigations. The sealed version of the report given to Congress only had two percent redacted. Thus, while the Democratic leadership is insisting holding back impeachment efforts until they can get “the full report,” they already have 98 percent of the report and the remaining grand jury information might ultimately not be released by a federal court. Nevertheless, as predicted in the column, the focus of Congress remains on the four-page summary that preceded the full 408-page report. It is a telling emphasis that highlights what I have previously discussed as the priority of congressional leaders.

Here is the column:

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Israeli Ambassador Calls For The Criminalization of Antisemitic Speech

In the aftermath of another tragic shooting at another synagogue, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon has again called for the criminalization of antisemitic speech. I have previously written about such international efforts to criminalize speech, including a proposal supported by the Obama Administration. The implications of such laws for free speech are easy to dismiss amidst the sorrow of another attack. However, the free speech community must remain firm that free speech is not the cause of hate, it is solution to hate.

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No Men Need Apply: Democrats’ Pledges To Bar Male Running Mates Raise Discrimination Concerns

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the expanding number of Democratic presidential candidates pledging to choose a woman as a running mate. What is striking is how these pledges have not even warranted a question in coverage over the propriety of such pledges since they would bar any males regardless of their qualifications to lead the nation. It raises an interesting conflict between the political and legal realms in stating such threshold conditions. What would be strictly forbidden for any business or agency or school is permissible in politics.

Here is the column:

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Brunei: Please Show Tolerance Over Our Stoning Gays To Death

Emblem of Brunei

With Saudi Arabia facing global outcry for execution of gays and display of crucified prisoners, Brunei is facing its own opposition movement over the adoption of Sharia law (including the stoning of adulterers and gays). In a remarkable act of hubris, Brunei is complaining over the lack of “tolerance’ for its intolerance for gays and others.

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Chalk One Up For The Fourth Amendment: Court Rules Parking Enforcement Officers Are Trespassing On Tires

In a surprising decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the little chalk mark placed on your tire by parking enforcement officers is a violation of your constitutional rights. The Sixth Circuit describes Alison Taylor as a “frequent recipient of parking tickets” who challenged the practice as a warrantless trespass by the government and won under an extension of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400 (2012), a case barring the placement of GPS devices on cars. Whether the Supreme Court would agree with the extension (or consider this a de minimus trespass) is a good question.

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“Man-Tax” Cafe Goes Out To Business After Just Two Years

There is a long-standing theory that discriminatory practices are eventually squeezed out of a market since they add marginal costs not carried by non-discriminatory firms. Becker’s model predicts that in a competitive setting, discriminating employers ultimately are forced out of the market by forfeiting profits. (See Becker, G. S. (1957) The Economics of Discrimination, Chicago: Chicago University Press). Of course, society should not wait for such a long-term market adjustment and most support anti-discrimination laws to end such practices. Yet, a controversial café in Melbourne Australia might have succumbed to such a marginal cost. Handsome Her, a vegan caf, became an international focus with its imposition of a “man tax” of 18 percent for any men who try to eat at the cafe. It was supposed to reflect the
gender pay gap.” That overt discrimination however appears to have created a customer gap and the cafe is now going out of business after only two years.

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Brothers Sue Lawyers for Jussie Smollett For Defamation

Abel and Ola Osundairo: Instagram

Abel and Ola Osundairo, the two brothers implicated in the hoax attack on Jussie Smollett, are heading back to court. This time however they will be appearing as plaintiffs in a defamation case against Smollett’s attorneys,  Tina Glandian and Mark Geragos. It is a relatively rare case against counsel and could test the limits of legal privilege in defamation.

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Roughly 300 Years Later, Is Julian Assange The New John Peter Zenger?

Below is my column in the BBC on the historical and potential legal significance of the prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Much of the prosecution could turn on whether Assange is a journalist. Notably, Assange just received a European journalism award from the European parliamentarians. Assange is this year’s recipient of the 2019 GUE/NGL Award for Journalists, Whistleblowers & Defenders of the Right to Information.

In the meantime, there are some interesting comparison between the Assange and Zenger cases in the long-standing debate over what constitutes press freedoms.

Here is the column:

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Islamic Cleric Instructs Men On How To Beat Their Wives “Out of Love”

We have previously discussed tutorials from Islamic clerics on how to beat your wife (here and here and here). The latest such grotesque lesson is from a leading cleric Abd Al-Aziz Al-Khazraj Al-Ansari in Qatar. Using a young boy as a stand-in for his wife, Al-Ansari, explains how to beat a wife “out of love” and how some women secretly want beatings because their want “violent and powerful husbands.”

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Clinton: Women Govern Differently Than Men

Hillary Clinton has continued her national speaking on what the Democrats should do to win back the White House.  For many, Clinton’s advice after losing to the most unpopular presidential candidate in history strikes a certain dubious note. However, there was an interesting component to some of her last appearances: referring to women as better or at least different leaders because they are women.  It raises a glaring but rarely discussed issue in the media.  The question is whether a male politician would be allowed to claim that voters should vote for him because men govern differently and have special leadership skills do to their gender. It is a view rejected by many women who voted against Clinton — women who Clinton promptly dismissed as controlled by their husbands. It seems like a verboten debate. It is considered fair for politicians to say that being a father or mother makes them a better leader. However, Clinton and others have gone further in suggesting that there is a gender difference to leadership and governing. Activists have argued that women are superior to men as leaders for such reasons as “They know how to spend and save money even when money is scarce.” Even academics are now arguing that women are inherently better leaders.

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