Islamophobia. And Conservaphobia

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen Donald Trump responding to a question about how we can get rid of Muslims:

Confronted with a questioner who called Muslims a “problem” and asserted that President Obama is a Muslim and not American, Donald Trump did not correct him on Thursday night.

“We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims. Our current President is one. We know he’s not even an American,” said a questioner at a town hall in New Hampshire. “We have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question, when can we get rid of them?”

“A lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We’re going to be looking at that and a lot of different things,” Trump responded.

Trump has been a leading proponent of the discredited theory that Obama was not born in the United States.

I will be as fair as I can to Trump. Politicians tend to draw nuts to them. This is especially true of politicians who are perceived as outsiders challenging the system. Libertarians have had to deal with this kind of crap for decades. The nuts turn up not because they agree with Libertarian philosophy but because they are attracted to just about any political outsider. But even mainstream politicians get crazies. I’ve talked to Congressional staffers about some of the insane letters and calls they get from nutty constituents. Trump laughs nervously halfway through the question and doesn’t really address it. I don’t think he’s embracing the views expressed at all. He’s just not smacking it down.

That having been said, it’s been a couple of days and he’s had plenty of time to disown the man’s comments. He hasn’t. It won’t hurt him right now bceause part of Trump’s appeal to many is precisely that he doesn’t constantly apologize. But it’s yet another thing that could come back to bite him badly should he win the nomination and yet another reason for anti-Trumpers to dislike him. And it’s yet another way the GOP’s willingness to play footsie with the lunatic fringe has damaged the brand.

Here’s the thing, though. As bad as this question was and as bad as Trump’s response was, possibly the worst response has been that of the Left. They are gleefully citing this clip as an example of what conservatives are really like. They are trotting out every invective you can imagine. To hear them say it, conservatives a racist, bigoted, Religious Right fundies who want to purge the country of a religious minority.

And, to me, that’s much worse. The reason it’s worse is because the view that we need to rid our country of Muslims or that Obama is some kind of Islamic caliphatist Manchurian candidate is on the lunatic fringe. Someone says something like that and they are instantly branded as a nut. The question was so nutty, in fact, that some conservatives are wondering if he was a plant or if the question was a joke.

But the view that conservatives are evil racists is mainstream. It is propounded every day by mainstream blogs, mainstream pundits, mainstream comedians, mainstream politicians. And it has a far more malefic effect on our politics. Conservative views and conservative politicians are ignored because everyone knows they’re racist. Objections to things like Dodd-Frank and Obamacare — objections proving increasingly well-founded — were ignored because everyone knew the Republicans just opposed these laws because they were filled with hate.

The most dangerous tendency in politics is to see your political opponents as The Other. To see them as fundamentally deformed and immoral, rather than people who have a different set of values or a different perspective.

Conservatives, including myself, are not immune from this, obviously. We’ve had six years of people trying to tar Obama as a communist or an America-hater or whatever. But again, there’s a difference. The mainstream media writes those views off as irrational and partisan. But the view that conservatives are mean-spirited racists is never regarded as irrational and partisan; it’s regarded as a revealed truth.

No one has a monopoly on rationality or intelligence. I haven’t seen a political figure yet who didn’t have a good point about something. But this incident has once again revealed that the Left and their MSM dogwashers do believe they have a monopoly on racial and religious tolerance. And that’s not just wrong, it’s dangerous. Far more dangerous some fruit loop in New Hampshire who thinks we can get rid of Muslims.


WhT on Earth?

When Ahmed Mohamed went to his high school in Irving, Texas, Monday, he was so excited. A teenager with dreams of becoming an engineer, he wanted to show his teacher the digital clock he’d made from a pencil case.

The 14-year-old’s day ended not with praise, but punishment, after the school called police and he was arrested. A photo shows Ahmed, wearing a NASA T-shirt, looking confused and upset as he’s being led out of school in handcuffs.

“They arrested me and they told me that I committed the crime of a hoax bomb, a fake bomb,” the freshman later explained to WFAA after authorities released him.

Irving Police spokesman Officer James McLellan told the station, “We attempted to question the juvenile about what it was and he would simply only tell us that it was a clock.”

The teenager did that because, well, it was a clock, he said.

On Wednesday, police announced that the teen will not be charged.

Chief Larry Boyd said that Ahmed should have been “forthcoming” by going beyond the description that what he made was a clock. But Boyd said that authorities determined that the teenager did not intend to alarm anyone and the device, which the chief called “a homemade experiment,” was innocuous.

I will be as fair as I can here. It was entirely appropriate for a teacher, seeing a student with a strange electronic device, to ask about it, no matter what color he was or what his name was. However, once it became clear it was a clock — and it’s pretty clear it was a clock — that should have been it. At most, they should have told him to not bring home projects in without telling anyone. That should have been it.

But our schools have become reflexive about calling the police. They call the police when one kid kisses a girl on a dare. They call the police when a girl plays around with some chemicals to make a rocket. They call the police when kids write violent stories.

People are trying to make this about race. And that appears to have played a role, based on what Achmed says the police said to him. But I really don’t think it’s the defining factor here. Our schools have become increasingly paranoid about … well, anything. Doug Mataconis:

Ever since the Columbine shooting in 1999 and everything that has followed it, schools have increasingly adopted so-called “zero tolerance” policies aimed at anything that even remotely suggests the idea of violence. This has led to extreme absurdities that have been reported in the media over the years, such as schoolchildren being disciplined for playing a schoolyard game and using their fingers as simulated guns, and even a child who was reprimanded for shaping a Pop-Tart into something allegedly resembling a gun. In almost none of these cases have these policies ever actually prevented a violent attack or uncovered a threat that authorities otherwise would not have been aware of. Indeed, most of the successful attacks in schools that have occurred have been situations where there had been no warning at all that the perpetrator would become violent. Additionally, statistics make clear that schools are actually safer today than they ever have been in that reported violence or attempted violence is at an all-time low compared to other times in the past. Proponents of the “Zero Tolerance” policies will claim, obviously, that the increase in school safety is attributable to those policies, but there’s simply no evidence to support that. More importantly, notwithstanding the fact that schools are safer, the rhetoric from school districts, law enforcement, and the media leads one to believe that they are in fact more dangerous than ever before. This leads to paranoia on all fronts, and precisely the kind of absurd situations that would have been dismissed as nothing to worry about decades ago. In this case, it led to a 9th grader with an interest in robotics being treated as a criminal and a terrorist even though there was no evidence that the device he had in his backpack was anything other than what he claimed it would be.

We encourage this. Our media encourage this when they give non-stop attention to every incident of violence. Gun controllers encourage this when they falsely claim we’ve had an explosion of school shootings. Politicians encourage this when they pretend our children are in constant danger to advance whatever agenda they want.

This is more than just dumbass school officials. This is a dumbass culture of paranoia, zero tolerance, panic-mongering and a psychotic need to call in the authorities for everything.

Pelosi Watch: Poor Hospitals

Nancy Pelosi once said we had to pass Obamacare to find out what was in it. And boy are we finding out:

An Obamacare program that aims to improve American health care may have an unintended side effect: penalizing hospitals that serve the sickest and poorest patients.

The Affordable Care Act penalizes hospitals that have high readmission rates, where patients come back within 30 days to deal with some complication of the initial procedure. The aim of that program was to encourage doctors to do the best job possible on the first hospital visit, improving patients’ experience and saving money by preventing a second trip.

But a new paper from three Harvard health-care experts suggests that the readmission program is penalizing hospitals for the type of patients they see. Hospitals that have high readmission rates tend to see patients who are less educated, more disabled, and more likely to suffer from depression — factors the Obamacare program doesn’t account for.

I suspect that you, like me, are shocked SHOCKED that a bill designed by politicians and wonks to exert control over a massive and complicated system didn’t work precisely as advertised. Keep in mind … this is one of Obamacare’s supposed big successes. They’ve touted the “huge” drop in readmissions (all of … 1%) as a sign of how awesome their reform is.

To be fair, penalizing hospitals for readmissions is not a completely stupid idea. Several insurance companies have been trying out programs to encourage better care. But the Obama people didn’t care for this kind of free-market innovation. To them, providers were greedy monsters doing poor care so they could charge more (remember Obama’s comment about amputating diabetic legs?) So they applied a ham-fisted program that has, on balance, made things work.

Well … at least we’ve seen insurance rates come down, right? Right?

Oh, yeah.

Another Shutdown?


Congress is running out of time to agree on a spending plan that keeps the government open, as Republican leaders attempt to defuse the threat of another shutdown – this one over Planned Parenthood.

Dozens of conservatives in the House and Senate have already pledged not to vote for a spending bill that includes money for Planned Parenthood. But both House speaker John Boehner and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell have rejected such proposals, worried that moderate and independent voters may blame the Republican party for a government shutdown.

Ya think? Shutting down the government two years ago accomplished little but had some support from the public. Shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood will accomplish nothing and have almost no support (current polling shows 70-20 opposition).

This is entirely about Planned Parenthood. The parties are in agreement on the budget, which basically sustains the fiscal path that has cut the budget deficit by 70% over the last six years. Right now, the leadership are trying to schedule a separate vote on defunding Planned Parenthood. Even if that passes, however, the President would veto it. And even if he didn’t, Planned Parenthood would almost certainly sue over it. Most of their government money come via Medicaid, for medical services they provide to poor women (this does not include abortion, for which funding is forbidden). So this would amount to singling them out among many providers for activities which, so far, are not illegal. Moreover, stripping this funding would not stop a single abortion, since Planned Parenthood’s abortion business is a separate revenue stream.

I have no idea where the Republican Party is headed right now. The two men leading the polls are Donald Trump and Ben Carson, neither of whom has any experience and neither of whom has shown much policy knowledge. Meanwhile, the campaign of several promising governors — Christie, Perry, Walker — are imploding. And now we’re talking about a government shutdown to stop an admittedly unpleasant abortion provider from … also providing health services and birth control. And while the GOP is flailing around like this, the Democrats are getting ready to put forward Hillary Clinton or, God help us, Bernie Sanders, as a Presidential candidate.

Give the culture cons their vote on Planned Parenthood. But once that fails, just pass the damn budget. It’s one thing to shut down over spiraling deficits. I didn’t support the shutdown over Obamacare but at least that was partially defensible. But this … this is just silliness. And with an election coming up, it could prove to be very costly silliness.

Seize the Legislature

I’ve made it clear many times: asset forfeiture is one of the most vile things our federal and state governments do. This is the process by which law enforcement seizes people’s money, homes, cars and other assets and … well, sometimes that’s it. Sometimes they charge them with a crime … eventually. Some states have tried to reign it in, but the Feds have created an “equitable sharing” program in which law enforcement can bypass state regulations by having a “joint investigation” with the Feds. They turn over the money to the Feds, who take a cut and then give the rest back. The wonderful Institute for Justice calls this “policing for profit”.

If this sounds like a criminal enterprise it should. Entire sections of highway have now become revenue streams for law enforcement. And I’ll give you three guesses as to the skin color of the people this happens to the most often.

Earlier this month, California tried to pull the plug on this literal highway robbery. Yesterday, that effort collapsed:

Yesterday, California Senate Bill 443 went down in flames in the state’s Assembly. The bill, sponsored by Democrat Holly Mitchell in the Senate and Republican David Hadley in the Assembly, would have reformed the state’s asset forfeiture regulations to require that police and prosecutors actually convict citizens of crimes before seizing ownership of their assets to spend on themselves.

Imagine that. Almost as if no one should be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

The bill originally passed overwhelmingly in the state Senate earlier in the year, but then police and prosecutors got wind of it and began a campaign of fearmongering against it, telling legislators it would threaten budgets and would cut law enforcement out of the federal asset forfeiture sharing program. The law had been stripped down so that the state would be able to continue participating in the federal program, but even that wasn’t enough. It didn’t even get close to passing the Assembly.

Here’s my proposal. The citizens of California should seize the assets of every legislator who voted against this bill under suspicion of corruption. After all, this is the body that once included Leland Yee, who has now pled guilty to racketeering charges that involved bribery, gun-running and money laundering. Under the rules of engagement that the legislature is clearly comfortable with, any legislator with a lot of money should be presumed guilty, his assets seized and onus put on him to prove his innocence.

Hey, fair is fair, assholes. If you’re going to treat the common citizen like walking law enforcement piggy banks, it’s time you ponied up too.

Labour Moves to the Fringe

Earlier this year, the United Kingdom had a stunning electoral result. The conservatives won a clear majority in the parliament, defying electoral expectations. Labour expected to do well with the collapse of the Liberal Democrats but what they gained in England, they more than lost in Scotland as the Scottish National Party swept up almost all of the seats. In the aftermath, Labour leader Ed Milibrand stepped down.

Today, the Labour Party appointed new leadership: certified nutter Jeremy Corbyn:

Veteran far-left lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party on Saturday, a runaway victory that threatens to further divide the party as it struggles to recover from a heavy defeat in elections earlier this year.

Corbyn’s win is one of the biggest political shake-ups in British politics in decades, marking a sharp left turn for his party and a rejection of the more centrist policies of his predecessors.

The silver-haired and bearded Corbyn, 66, has drawn vitriol and admiration in equal measure with his old-school socialist views: He wants more taxation for the rich, strongly opposes Britain’s austerity measures, and argues for nationalizing industry. Considered an eccentric outsider just three months ago, he has surged in popularity to become the favorite over his three more mainstream rivals.

Corbyn’s beliefs are a radical left smorgasbord of bullshit: nationalizing industries, inflation, wage caps, trade restrictions, nationalizing schools, nationalizing childcare, rent control, raising taxes through the roof, withdrawing from NATO, abandoning the campaign against ISIS, scrapping Britain’s nuclear weapons, wealth redistribution and massive increases in spending (because Britons are apparently not taxed enough). He even wants to re-open Britain’s coal mines because what Britain really needs right now is to send another generation of men deep into the ground to have their bodies destroyed digging out a mineral that is an economic sinkhole and is the worst fuel in terms of global warming. Oh, and he also has ties to anti-Israel organizations.

Back in the 1990’s, when the Tories lost the government, they went into the wilderness, becoming more radical and stupid before finding their way back under Cameron. Since 2008, the Republicans have done something similar, albeit in a less decisive fashion. In both cases, the result of purifying themselves was to elect the opposition. We’ll have to hope Britain’s economy stays afloat under Cameron. Because if Labour wins while Corbyn is in charge of Labour, the British ship of state could sink very far and very fast. Imagine the UK, only with Syriza in charge.

Update: The current generation has never seen real socialism. Oh, they’ve seen Socialism Lite: big wealth transfer programs, big spending programs, high taxes. But they haven’t seen it like it was in the 70’s when labor unions could dictate industrial policy, when entire unprofitable industries were propped up with billions in taxpayer money, when you had to fight with store clerks to keep them from raising the prices on things while you were trying to buy them, when the West almost abandoned Israel to the wolves.

With Venezuela, Bolivia, Greece and now possibly the UK, they’re about to get a quick refresher course. Let’s hope it’s a quick lesson. We can’t afford to learn as slowly as we did forty years ago.

The NFL, Deflation and the Law

So the NFL season will kickoff tonight. I’m mildly excited. My main enthusiasm is for the college game, which got off to an amazing start this past weekend.

However, the NFL’s kickoff game will be Pittsburgh against New England, which took on added interest when a judge threw out Tom Brady’s suspension for his role in Deflategate, reinstating the quarterback for at least the first game of the season.

My opinion on deflategate has waxed and waned. My first reaction, as someone not overly fond of the Patriots or Brady, was to support a hefty punishment, especially in light of their previous cheating (Spygate). But as time has gone on, my opinion has changed. I skimmed through the Wells report and came away … unimpressed by the case against the Patriots and particularly against Brady. And when I read Judge Berman’s decision, I found myself nodding my head and agreeing with everything he said.

You can read Bill James for a very good evaluation.

Goodell cannot make up industrial law as he goes along. As Berman stated it, “It is the ‘Law of the Shop’ to provide professional football players with advance notice of prohibited conduct and potential discipline.” There is no trail anywhere suggesting that a player can be suspended for an equipment tampering violation. No player has ever been punished in a like manner for a like offense—and, in fact, there have been similar offenses committed in the past, with no punishment at all directed at the players who benefitted. In 2009, a New York Jets employee was caught using a sideline heater to warm up the football that would be used to a attempt a field goal, making the ball travel further. The Jets’ kicker was present and obviously aware of the activity, but no action was taken against him. The league’s Competitive Integrity Policy states that the fine for a first offense for equipment tampering is $5,512. But since Mr. Brady did not tamper with the equipment and there is no real evidence that he was even aware that it had been done, even that fine would be problematic in this situation.

A phrase in the NFL Game Operations Manual states that if the footballs are tampered with in this manner “the person responsible and, if appropriate, the head coach and other club personnel will be subject to discipline, including but not limited to, a fine of $25,000.” However, the Game Operations Manual is not provided to players, is not subject to collective bargaining, and is not a basis for disciplinary action against players, even if that disciplinary action was within the range outlined in the directive.

Even the case that the deflation happened at all is weak. The Wells report specifically says that the Colts’ balls were inflated to 0.5 PSI more than the Patriots before the game (both were within the legal range). When you account for the cold, we’re talking about 0.4 PSI that the Patriots may have let out. I think the Patriots did probably let some air out of the balls but 0.4 PSI is … not a lot to hang your hat on. And the case that Brady knew about this is even weaker. The supposed damning texts really aren’t that damning. It’s more of him complaining about the league over-inflating the balls.

The most damning evidence, to many, is that Brady destroyed his cell phone. But there’s actually no rule in the NFL against destroying evidence and players who have done so have not previously been disciplined. (In the link, James goes into many reasons that Brady may not have wanted the leak-prone NFL to have private information on his phone. I’m not completely sold, but I think he has a point).

What the should the league have done about this? Well, the rules specify a $25,000 fine on the team. Given the Patriots’ history and the importance of the game, I think they could have gotten their million dollar fine without a problem. But when Goodell decided he wanted Brady’s head on his wall, he elevated the tentative conclusions of the Wells report to certainties and then stumbled right into a briar patch of labor law.

The long and short of this, to quote the great sage Walter Sobchak: This is not ‘Nam. This is collective bargaining. There are rules. Goodell has gotten himself into trouble numerous times trying to exercise control of the league. In the media vacuum before the Super Bowl, this story became massively overhyped. He saw an opportunity to exercise his authority again and a judge slapped him down again. It pains me to say this but the judge was right.

(PS – As a Steelers fan who lives in outskirts of Steeler Country, I’d love to see Brady not under center tonight. But I can’t honestly say he shouldn’t be. Damn.)

(PPS – As I was working on this post, the Imperial March from the Empire Strikes Back came on my iTunes shuffle. How appropriate.)

Sexting Panic

Meet the latest victim of our hysteria over sexting:

In October of last year, during an unrelated investigation, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department seized the cell phone of a 17-year-old boy. He had a 17-year-old girlfriend. “While our investigators went through the phone they saw there were photos of himself and another person on the phone,” Sergeant Sean Swain told a local news outlet. “Simple possession having it on your cell phone is a charge itself, and if you should send it out to another person that is another charge.”

Now the boy faces five counts of “sexual exploitation of a minor” and the girl faces unspecified charges. Laws intended to protect kids are being used to prosecute them.

Had these images gone undiscovered they’d likely have done no harm at all to these young people. But thanks to the authorities, the boy has now had his photograph and name––which I am withholding but is easily found––published in the local newspaper and broadcast on television. He has been suspended from his high school football team. For months, he has had to deal with the intense anxiety stoked by facing charges of this sort and the prospect of life as a registered sex offender.

This is insane. And it’s not an isolated incident. About a year ago, I noted a case where the police wanted to force a kid to get an erection to confirm that some sext pics were his. In that incident, I said:

Look, I don’t want teens sending naked pictures of themselves around willy-nilly either. But the legal system is not designed for the subtleties of a parental chat. Once you call in the legal system, it deals with things the way it is designed to: with maximum firepower.

At the very least, we need to rewrite our laws to deal with this. It is insane and ridiculous to charge teens with kiddie porn for taking pictures of themselves. Teenagers have been taking naked pictures of themselves since the camera was invented. Hell, somewhere out there is probably a cave painting some prehistoric teenager made of his dick in an effort to impress a cute cavegirl.

I can’t say I’m surprised that we haven’t gotten anywhere on this. Violent crime has plunged in the last twenty years and it seems like the government’s response is to invent new crimes to keep the law enforcement industrial complex going. Witness prostitutes in Alaska being charged with sex trafficking … themselves. Now we have yet another teenager charged with exploiting … himself. Maybe they’ll tack on a molestation charge if he turns out to have masturbated.

Charges like this are usually justified by law enforcement as being necessary to teach kids that sexting has consequences. The Kafka-esque logic behind that is absurd: “we have to teach you that sexting can ruin your life by … ruining your life.” But there’s really no one fighting against this dangerous nonsense.

Last year, Hannah Rosin wrote a long form piece on sexting: why kids do it and how communities are responding. The upshot is that our laws are way behind the times. Many states don’t want to lessen the penalties for fear of being called soft on exploitation. And others have lessened the penalties but still regard sexting by minors as a criminal offense which can eventually be a felony. Rosin focuses on Donald Lowe, a sheriff dealing with a sexting scandal in Louisa County, Virginia, trying to navigate the law without ruining anyone’s life.

About a month into the investigation, Donald Lowe concluded that the wide phone-collection campaign had added up to one massive distraction. Yes, the girls who appeared on Instagram had done something technically illegal by sending naked photos of themselves. But charging them for that crime didn’t make any sense. “They thought they were doing it privately,” he told me, reaching much the same conclusion as Levick. “We’re not helping them at all by labeling them at an early age.” Lowe recalled to me a girl in his own high-school class who had developed a reputation as “the county slut, and it took her years and years to overcome that.” These girls didn’t need their names in the paper to boot.

The case Lowe was dealing with a little more complicated because some boys had put a bunch of sexts onto Instagram without the girls’ consent. But one problem he was up against was enormous community pressure to “do something” about … well, whatever people imagined was going on.

Law needs to change. That much is certain. But we need to change too. We need to stop reacting to stories like this by seeing the boys as predators or the girls as sluts. We need to stop seeing predators behind every blade of grass. We need to realize that teenagers are both stupid and horny and they are going to do stupid things like send naked pictures to each other. In short, we need to find the path that works so well with other vices: harm reduction. Educate teens about sexting (although they won’t listen). Work on ways to get pictures off of the internet and to punish genuine exploiters. But for goodness sake, don’t charge kids with child porn for sending each other naked pictures.

When To Defy The Law

Earlier this week, I blogged about Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in defiance of an edict from the governor and a court order. Yesterday, she was jailed for Contempt of Court and her deputies began to issue the licenses.

Eugene Volokh has a great breakdown of the relevant law. Long story short, Davis may have a claim under Kentucky’s RFRA law, which allows the state to accommodate religious beliefs if the accommodation is not a burden:

Davis’s objection, it appears (see pp. 40 and 133 of her stay application and attachments), is not to issuing same-sex marriage licenses as such. Rather, she objects to issuing such licenses with her name on them, because she believes (rightly or wrongly) that having her name on them is an endorsement of same-sex marriage. Indeed, she says that she would be content with

Modifying the prescribed Kentucky marriage license form to remove the multiple references to Davis’ name, and thus to remove the personal nature of the authorization that Davis must provide on the current form.

Now this would be a cheap accommodation that, it seems to me, a state could quite easily provide. It’s true that state law requires the County Clerk’s name on the marriage license and the marriage certificate. But the point of RFRAs, such as the Kentucky RFRA, is precisely to provide religious objectors with exemptions even from such generally applicable laws, so long as the exemptions don’t necessarily and materially undermine a compelling government interest.

If that is indeed the case, it seems that this issue could be resolved relatively quickly. Davis, as far as I know, is mostly pursuing a federal claim which SCOTUS had rejected. Hence, the Contempt order.

I think it is entirely appropriate to charge her with Contempt. As I noted earlier, her choices were to issue the marriage licenses or resign. Religion is something that can be accommodated. It is not a shield with which to defy the law.

However … a second debate has emerged from this with conservatives arguing that liberals defy the law all the time without consequence and that Davis is being persecuted because her objections are religious rather than political. This rebuttal has focused on several examples:

Gavin Newsom, while mayor of San Francisco, had his clerks issue marriage licenses to gay couples in defiance of state law. Is this the same as Davis? No, it isn’t. Newsom was not violating anyone’s civil rights by issuing the licenses. Moreover, it was a publicity stunt, one that paid off for Newsom with the Lieutenant Governor’s position. In the end, the marriages were annulled and Newsom stopped issuing the licenses. There was no defiance of a court order. That having been said, Newsom was in the wrong and had he defied the Court order, I would have supported a Contempt charge. Even if what Newsom was doing was an act of civil disobedience, civil disobedience includes the consequences of your actions.

Sanctuary Cities are another touted example, but this too fails. As Jonathan Adler points out, whatever one may think of sanctuary cities, they are not defying federal law:

The Constitution establishes that federal law is supreme. But it is also well-established that the federal government may not “commandeer” state and local governments to implement federal law. What this means is that the federal government is free to enforce federal law, including immigration law, whether state or local officials like it or not. At the same time the federal government cannot dictate that state and local officials enforce that law on the federal government’s behalf.

This was upheld by SCOTUS when the Court ruled that the Federal government could not force states to carry out firearms background checks on its behalf.

Attorneys general and governors who refused to defend anti-gay marriage amendments in Court have also come in for scrutiny. We’ve debated this in the comments before. As Doug Mataconis points out, it is perfectly acceptable for a governor or President to refuse to defend a law in Court if they believe it to be unconstitutional. In fact, numerous Presidents, including Republicans, have done so before. It would not be appropriate for an attorney general to do it on his own; they are supposed to follow the orders of the President or the governor. But it’s acceptable for an executive. If a new President is elected, there is no requirement for him to embrace the Constitutional theories of his predecessor.

Marijuana legalization has been cited with people saying that it is lawless for the federal government to not go after state marijuana dealers in Wyoming and Colorado (as well as other states with medical marijuana laws). I don’t see this as comparable either. First, the federal government has been going after legal pot dealers, as we’ve documented numerous times. Second, this goes down to prosecutorial discretion, in which federal prosecutors have been told to concentrate their resources on other crimes.

That having been said, I would be much happier about the situation if Congress passed a law to protect state-legalized marijuana shops and clinics.

D.C. clerks have reportedly been refusing to issue conceal carry permits in defiance of a judge’s order. I’m having trouble finding documentation of this claim. As far as I can tell, there is still an ongoing lawsuit over the matter. DC is a restrictive may-issue state, so there is no obligation of clerks to issue conceal carry permits. And it appears that while a judge ordered them to start issuing permits, that order was stayed. If, however, the District receives a Court order to start issuing and refuses to, that would be comparable to the Davis situation.

I’m eager to find examples of people refusing to carry out the law with impunity, but the examples touted so far are not convincing. I’m not seeing any evidence that Davis is being unfairly singled out.