Would the Framers’ Allow Signs that Create a Disturbance?

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, a proponent of U.S. President Donald Trump, has adopted a “code of conduct” for a planned  town meeting  tomorrow at the  Mesa Convention Center, near Phoenix.

It is likely that some people in Sen.Flake’s district are upset with his support of Trump’s agenda, particularly that part of the agenda which threatens reasonable labor protections,  meaningful health care for all, and environmental regulations that may just save the world for one more generation. It’s even possible that things will get uncomfortable for Sen. Flake, a former executive director of the Goldwater Institute.

So. Sen. Flake, who was elected to the Senate in 2013, has published a code of conduct for the meeting that contains the following provisions:

  • “Attendees with signs, banners or objects that create a disturbance will not be admitted.”
  • “To ensure a safe, enjoyable, and productive town hall, all attendees must comply with posted and audible instructions and failure to comply will result in immediate removal.”
  • “Constituents may begin to park or line up on the property one hour before the program begins. Doors will open an hour before the program begins.”

A progressive feminist nitpicker might find fault with Sen. Flake’s code of conduct. For one thing, the code seems designed to limit the speech of Sen. Flake’s critics.  It is not likely that he is concerned about signage that applauds his performance in office.

The U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly has  ruled that political signs are entitled to free speech protection under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The government cannot impose “content-based regulations” on political speech. For example, the government cannot decide that signs which approve of the government are admissible but signs that express displeasure about the government are not admissible. The Court  also says it is perfectly okay if free speech creates a disturbance.

In addition, would the original framers of the U.S. Constitution deny citizens admission to a town hall meeting because they carried signs that were critical of government?

Fix the ‘Blacklisting’ Rule

President Donald Trump has officially revoked  the so-called “Blacklisting” executive order that was signed by former President Barack H. Obama in 2014 to encourage federal contractors to obey labor laws.

That’s a shame.  It’s smart public policy to save federal tax dollars by encouraging voluntary compliance with federal law. However, in truth, Obama’s executive order was needlessly flawed and arguably unconstitutional..

As written, the blacklisting rule required contractors seeking federal contracts over $500,000 to report both alleged labor violations and adjudicated violations to federal agencies. Federal agencies could then use the information  to award future contracts, cancel existing contracts, and potentially demand remedial action to address a pattern of violations.

It should be obvious even to a high school student that the federal government can’t penalize a contractor that is merely accused of a labor law violation. What if the contractor is innocent? Contractors have a right to due process of law under the U.S. Constitution. [Read more…]

Judge Gorsuch and the ‘Frozen Trucker’ case

I write a lot about very bad court decisions. Here’s one from U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch that rivals the very worst.

Judge Gorsuch wrote a dissent in Transam Trucking, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, U.S. Department of Labor in which he said a trucker should be fired because he left a big truck rig with frozen brakes that was stranded by the side of the road late at night in frigid weather, three hours after his employer failed to arrive to fix the truck. The cabin was unheated and the trucker was showing signs of hypothermia. He unhooked the trailer and drove the cab to a gas station where he warmed up, and then he returned. He was fired.

“It might be fair to ask whether TransAm’s decision was a wise or kind one. But it’s not our job to answer questions like that” wrote Gorsuch.”There’s simply no law anyone has pointed us to giving employees the right to operate their vehicles in ways their employers forbid.”

Do we really need a law saying you can save your life if its 14 degrees below zero,  your torso is numb and your speech slurred, and your employer has failed to rescue you after several hours time?

[Read more…]

How Can the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Be So Clueless about Age Discrimination?

Why is it left to the Attorney General of Illinois to address the national problem of blatant and destructive age discrimination in hiring?

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan this week warned six national career and job search companies that some of their search functions could violate state and federal age discrimination laws. The job sites are Chicago-based CareerBuilder, Indeed, Beyond, Ladders, Monster Worldwide and Vault.

Kudos to Ms. Madigan but this issue demands a national response, especially since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta  ruled that job applicants are not entitled to the protection of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

Yet, for years, the EEOC and members of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging have sat on their hands while older workers have been mired in chronic unemployment due to  blatant age discrimination in hiring.  Why? The picture became clearer recently when Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania , a ranking member of the Special Committee on Aging, issued a press release on the committee’s web site that was stunningly uninformed about the ADEA.

Casey announced that he and several other committee members recently “introduced” the Protecting Older Workers against Discrimination Act (POWADA), which would remove  the higher burden workers alleging age discrimination currently face in the court system relative to workers alleging discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, or religion. In actuality, the POWADA  is a proposed law that literally has been languishing in various Congressional committees since  2009, which was  the year that the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling establishing the higher burden for age discrimination plaintiffs.

Worse, Sen. Casey says the POWADA would “level the playing field” for older workers. This statement is so profoundly wrong that one must wonder whether the special committee employs any professional staff who know anything at all about the federal law governing age discrimination.

Contrary to what Sen. Casey states, the POWADA would not “level the playing field for older workers.” Not by a long shot.

[Read more…]