Apple’s Find My iPhone feature comes through, even when the phone’s ringer is off

My son lost my wife’s iPhone in the house, and the ringer was off, so we couldn’t just call it. Fortunately, I remembered something about there being a Find My iPhone feature. I Googled a bit; went to icloud.com; signed on with my wife’s Apple ID; clicked on “Find iPhone”; clicked on “All Devices”; clicked on the icon representing the phone; and then clicked on “Play Sound.”

“Beep-beep-beep,” said the phone. “I found it!” said my son. “All is forgiven,” my wife will surely say when she returns. Alas, that will be beyond my son’s gratitude horizon, but at least my wife will have her phone back.


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The left orientation of industrial relations

Mitchell Langbert has a new article out, in which he demonstrates that the field of industrial relations (like legal academia) is dominated by left/liberal pro-union, pro-regulation perspectives, and has only token representation of free-market scholars and views. Here is the abstract:

I show that the field known as industrial relations (IR) leans overwhelmingly to the political left. I investigate the voter registration and political contributions of IR researchers, showing overwhelming Democratic Party favor. I construct a data set of participants in the IR field, which contains 920 U.S.-based person-roles (deriving from 709 actual persons). Included are the authors of the 539 research articles published in four periodicals 2009–2013: (1) the annual meeting proceedings volume of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA), (2) Industrial and Labor Relations Review, (3) Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, and (4) the Journal of Labor Research. I also include the editors of the periodicals, the officers of LERA, and a sample of LERA’s ordinary members. The data suggests that the ratio of Democratic-to-Republican voter registration among participants in IR is roughly 10 to one. I find a similar ratio when looking at those who have made contributions to Democratic and Republican candidates for office. I also show that Democratic lopsidedness at the three mainstream IR journals becomes more extreme at the higher stations (officers and editors, as opposed to ordinary members and authors). Also, I analyze the content of the 539 articles for union support and regulation support; the mainstream IR journals are overwhelmingly pro-union and pro-regulation.

Download Langbert’s article here. And, for more on the lack of intellectual diversity on campus, check out Heterodox Academy.


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Justice Ginsburg on Justice Brandeis and the “Brandeis Brief”

On Thursday, Justice Ginsburg spoke at Brandeis University on Justice Louis Brandeis and the influence of his famous brief in Muller v. Oregon. In his brief, he compiled non-legal authorities in support of the constitutionality of Oregon’s law limiting women workers to ten-hour days in factory and laundry work.

Not surprisingly, Ginsburg is ambivalent about Brandeis and his brief. As a feminist attorney who worked to overturn sex distinctions in American law, she is appalled by some of the nonsensical “authority” relied upon by Brandeis to justify the hours law, such as the notion that women’s blood has more water than man’s blood. On the other hand, she admires Brandeis’s progressivism, and his pioneering use of science and social science in arguments to the Supreme Court.

As someone who has written quite a bit about Brandeis, Muller, and legal progressivism, not surprisingly I have some quibbles with Ginsburg’s account of Brandeis. One significant quibble is that she asks whether Brandeis’s brief in Muller was successful because it actually persuaded some of the Justices who would have otherwise been inclined to invalidate the law under Lochner to instead uphold the law, or because the Brief reinforced the Justices’ (sexist) preconceptions. In my view, the  it’s unlikely that the brief influenced a single vote on the Court, as I explain in this article:

In retrospect it’s clear that the leading case on maximum hours laws was not Lochner, but Holden v. Hardy, which upheld a law restricting the hours of miners. The only dissenters in Holden were Justices Peckham and Brewer, and they were the only Justices who, based on their voting patterns, were plausibly going to vote to invalidate the law at issue in Muller. While Justice Brewer, who had no sympathy for Brandeis’s Progressivism, made the unusual gesture of acknowledging Brandeis’s brief in a footnote [to his opinion for the Court in Muller], Brewer only stated that the brief provided evidence supporting the “common belief” that long hours of labor were harmful to women and their progeny. Under Lochner and other precedents either common knowledge or scientific evidence was sufficient to justify labor regulation as a proper “health law” under the police power. Brandeis’s sociological presentation was therefore legally superfluous. Later that year, Brewer defended his opinion without reference to the famous brief. Instead, he argued with regard to women that “[t]he race needs her, her children need her; her friends need her, in a way that they do not need the other sex.” Moreover, Brewer’s opinion won support across the political spectrum, including from sources (such as The Nation) that had supported Lochner. Protective labor laws for women were simply thought to be in a different category than laws that “protected” healthy male bakers.

I disagree more emphatically with Ginsburg when she says she admires Brandeis’s ability to combine his belief in judicial restraint with support for civil rights and civil liberties. As I explain in this article, Brandeis did have a more civil libertarian judicial career than one might expect from a progressive Justice of his era (and was “better” in this regard than his colleague and Progressive favorite Oliver Wendell Holmes), and he was considered a civil libertarian at a time when civil libertarianism was largely limited to protected the rights of dissenters and being favorably inclined to labor unions. However,  Brandeis’s record on the Court includes many significant deviations from civil libertarianism as it came to be understood in the post–New Deal period. These deviations include his acquiescence to coercive eugenics, his general lack of interest in African American rights, his support for protective labor legislation for women and concomitant disregard for women’s legal equality, his toleration of government abuses attendant to Prohibition enforcement, and his desire to repeal the Fourteenth Amendment. Brandeis is better seen as a transitional figure between the statist Progressivism of the early twentieth century and post-World War II legal liberalism. In any event, it’s far too simplistic, and too generous to Brandeis, to portray him as anything approaching a consistent champion of civil rights and civil liberties. In fairness to Ginsburg, as I explain in the article linked above, for decades Brandeis has routinely depicted as a great civil libertarian, a reflection of what post-War liberals thought Brandeis must have believed, rather than his actual record.


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“Any academic who lectures against ‘cultural appropriation’ undermines the whole purpose of a university”

A nice line from professor Glenn Reynolds (University of Tennessee), a.k.a. Instapundit.


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Atheists’ case against Pennsylvania bus system can go forward

The Freethought Society's second ad, submitted under COLTS' old policy.

The Freethought Society’s second ad, submitted under COLTS’s old policy.

In Northeastern Pennsylvania Freethought Society v. County of Lackawanna Transit System, the county bus system refused to run ads for the society that said “Atheist. NEPA Freethought.org” and “Atheists. NEPA Freethought Society. NEPAfreethought.org.” (An ad that omitted “Atheists” and just said “NEPA Freethought Society. Meetup.com/nepafreethoughtsociety” was allowed in 2014.)

The bus system said that the ads violated various policies:

The June 21, 2011 COLTS’ Advertising Policy, which was applicable at the time of its initial rejection of plaintiff’s ad, prohibited advertising “that is deemed in COLTS[‘] sole discretion to be derogatory to any … religion,” or “that [is] objectionable, controversial or would generally be offensive to COLTS’ ridership based solely on the discretion of COLTS.” … COLTS’ policy also prohibited ads for tobacco products, alcohol, and political candidates… .

On September 17, 2013, COLTS adopted a new advertising policy. The 2013 policy provides that COLTS will not accept advertisements: “that promote the existence or non-existence of a supreme deity, deities, being or beings; that address, promote, criticize or attack a religion or religions, religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs; that directly quote or cite scriptures, religious text or texts involving religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs; or are otherwise religious in nature.”

But the society alleged that, even while the original policy was in effect, COLTS

had accepted several advertisements from religious organizations and ads later deemed to violate its policy, including ads from the following: 1. St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church; 2. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church; 3. Christian Women’s Devotional Alliance; 4. Hope Church; 5. a School Board candidate; 6. Brewer’s Outlet, a beer distributor; and 7. Old Forge Times, an online blog containing links to anti-Semitic websites… .

In fact, it is alleged that for at least a decade prior to January 2012 [when the Society submitted its first ad], COLTS had never rejected any advertisement… .

On Wednesday, a federal district court concluded that, if the facts are as the society alleged, this would be unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

Plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts to support a plausible claim that COLTS was rejecting its ads because it disagreed with the underlying ideology of atheism which plaintiff’s speech expressed. “Viewpoint discrimination occurs when the government ‘targets not subject matter, but particular views taken by speakers on a subject.’”

Plaintiff has alleged that COLTS allowed several religious groups to place ads on its properties as well as other types of ads which were in violation of its policy. Plaintiff alleges that COLTS unevenly enforced its policies and it abused its discretion by favoring certain groups, such as groups that were religious in nature, over others…. Further, plaintiff alleged that up until the time that it sought to advertise, COLTS accepted every ad that was presented to it, including ads that violated its own policies. Thus, plaintiff alleges that COLTS has permitted the display of religious advertisements recognizing certain churches and groups.

Sounds right to me; viewpoint discrimination is forbidden in a nonpublic forum, and this rule survives the Supreme Court’s Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans decision. The court in Sons of Confederate Veterans stressed, “[T]his case does not resemble other cases in which we have identified a nonpublic forum… . [T]his case [is not] like [Lehman v. City of Shaker Heights], where we found the advertising space on city buses to be a nonpublic forum. See R.A.V. v. St. Paul (1992) (identifying Lehman as a case about a nonpublic forum). There, the messages were located in a context (advertising space) that is traditionally available for private speech. And the advertising space, in contrast to license plates, bore no indicia that the speech was owned or conveyed by the government.”

The bus system argued that the religious group ads “do not establish inconsistent application or opening the forum to the issue of the existence or non-existence of god,” because

It is not the name of the organization that created the issue. As noted earlier and in the Complaint, NEPA Freethought Society has also been permitted to run an ad indicating its name. What was not permitted is the word “Atheist,” or any other discussion of the existence of non-existence of god.

Merriam-Websters’ online dictionary defines “atheist” as: a person who believes that God does not exist; one who believes that there is no deity. By the very definition of the word, it raises the issue of the existence of non-existence of god. Plaintiff’s argument that the word does not fall under the provisions of the policy ignores the definition of the word.

Plaintiff has not alleged any facts to establish that any other ad has been run with a message regarding the existence or non-existence of god….

But I think the bus system’s argument is unsound, and the district court was right not to accept it. The names of the churches and religious groups that appeared on the ads (apparently St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Christian Women’s Devotional Alliance, and Hope Church) themselves “raise[] the issue of the existence … of god” as much as the word “Atheist” does. (If the policy had said that groups can include only their names, however ideologically laden the namse might be, but can’t include other ideological terms, then one might say that such a policy was being applied without regard to viewpoint; but that was not the bus system’s stated policy.)


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‘I lit him up … I could smell something burning’

Steve Tuttle, director of communications for Taser International, Inc., holds the X26c stun gun Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at the company's headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Tom Hood)

Steve Tuttle, director of communications for Taser International, holds the X26c stun gun in 2004 at the company’s headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Tom Hood/Associated Press)

Those are the words of a woman who reports that she stun-gunned a man who was trying to rape her and who had stabbed her four times, puncturing her lung. The Detroit News (Oralandar Brand-Williams) adds that the alleged would-be rapist, Darian Winfield, is also accused of having earlier stabbed another woman and may have murdered a 17-year-old girl in a different assault. Fox 2 Detroit (Hannah Saunders) reports that Winfield wasn’t incapacitated by the stun gun, and punched the woman who stun-gunned him in the head, but nonetheless ran away.

Michigan banned stun guns until 2012; the repeal followed a trial court decision holding the statute unconstitutional under the Second Amendment, and People v. Yanna (Mich. Ct. App. 2012), decided after the repeal, affirmed that trial court decision. I’m pleased to say that I filed an amicus brief in the Yanna case, together with local counsel Michael Smith, on behalf of Arming Women Against Rape & Endangerment.

For more on the remaining stun-gun bans throughout the United States, see my 2009 article; the Michigan and Wisconsin bans have been repealed, but the bans in Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, the District, the Virgin Islands and several cities still remain. The Supreme Court is considering whether to hear a case about the Massachusetts stun-gun bans; see this post, which quotes a friend-of-the-court brief I filed in that case on behalf of Arming Women Against Rape & Endangerment.


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Study originalism intensively at Georgetown Law this summer

This summer, the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, which I direct, will be sponsoring a new Originalism Boot Camp on originalist interpretation, to be held from May 23-27 at Georgetown Law. The boot camp will provide an incomparable training for current law students and recent graduates. In addition to daily lectures by me and my Georgetown colleague, Professor Lawrence Solum, the boot camp will feature guest lectures by:

In the afternoons, students will have the opportunity to meet with Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, Judge Diane Sykes, and former Attorney General Ed Meese, as well as interact with a stellar panel of constitutional litigators.

It is with great pleasure that I invite you to apply for this 5-day intensive boot camp. Because we understand that your time is valuable, up to 20 selected applicants will receive a $3,000 honorarium for their participation in the program, in addition to their travel expenses. (Admission will be on a rolling basis and may fill up before the deadline of March 15th.)

For more information on the boot camp and how to apply, please view our brochure. If you have any questions, please contact the Center’s Program Manager, Alexa Gervasi, at alg90@law.georgetown.edu.

I look forward to reading your application.


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