Jacob Sullum
Jacob Sullum
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Senseless Restrictions on Outdoor Activities Undermine the Goal of Curbing COVID-19

Senseless Restrictions on Outdoor Activities Undermine the Goal of Curbing COVID-19

Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many questions about the virus that causes the disease, including the , the of , and the , remain controversial. But epidemiologists and public health specialists have reached a consensus on at least one point: The risk of virus transmission is in outdoor settings than it is indoors, especially when the latter spaces are poorly ventilated, crowded, and occupied by people who are expelling a lot of respiratory droplets by talking, singing, coughing, or sneezing. Yet some state and local governments have responded to the in newly identified infections...

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Jacob Sullum
5d ago
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Biden's Drug Policies Are Still Oppressive

Biden's Drug Policies Are Still Oppressive

Joe Biden has come a long way since his days as a vociferous drug warrior. But judging from last week's election results, Americans have come further.The president-elect now the mandatory minimum sentences and death penalties he once , and he portrays himself as a reformer determined to ameliorate the mass incarceration he promoted for decades. But Biden's approach to drug policy remains intolerant and oppressive in several important ways.Unlike most of his opponents for the Democratic nomination, Biden repealing the federal ban on marijuana. Instead he favors decriminalizing low-level...

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Jacob Sullum
Nov 11
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Judges Are Not Impressed by Rudy Giuliani's Evidence of 'Widespread Nationwide Voter Fraud'

Judges Are Not Impressed by Rudy Giuliani's Evidence of 'Widespread Nationwide Voter Fraud'

One evening a few years ago, I was approached by a friendly, seemingly rational man outside our apartment on Keren HaYesod in Jerusalem and somehow got sucked into a conversation about "." Try as I might, I could not seem to extricate myself as he spun an elaborate conspiracy theory and assured me there was plenty of evidence to back it up. I thought of that guy while watching Rudy Giuliani's yesterday, which began with an appeal to fair-mindedness before descending into madness.According to the told by Giuliani and two other Trump lawyers, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis, Democratic election...

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Jacob Sullum
Nov 20
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Gavin Newsom's French Laundry Outing Crystallizes the Arrogance of COVID-19 Dictators

Gavin Newsom's French Laundry Outing Crystallizes the Arrogance of COVID-19 Dictators

On November 6, when California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) sat down for a fancy dinner party at the tony Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry, the state was in the midst of a . Newsom and other state officials were the importance of following social distancing rules and wearing face masks in public places, as by an order that the governor issued in June. They were urging Californians to forgo Thanksgiving dinners and other private social gatherings, which they had identified as an important source of virus transmission.Yet there was the politician behind those policies, sitting shoulder to...

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Jacob Sullum
Nov 19
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Cuomo's COVID-19 Rules Discriminate Against Religion

Cuomo's COVID-19 Rules Discriminate Against Religion

"This is a fear-driven response," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during an October 6 phone conversation about his pandemic-inspired restrictions on religious services. "This is not a policy being written by a scalpel. This is a policy being cut by a hatchet."The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, which is the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency injunction against Cuomo's order, argues that a bit more care is required when the government interferes with the free exercise of religion. The Court's decision will be an important indication of whether the justices are prepared to enforce on what...

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Jacob Sullum
Nov 18
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Alito Rightly Slams Five Democratic Senators for 'Bullying' the Supreme Court

Alito Rightly Slams Five Democratic Senators for 'Bullying' the Supreme Court

In an eyebrow-raising , five Democratic senators that the Supreme Court might have to be "restructured" if it failed to reach the conclusion they preferred in a Second Amendment case. Justice Samuel Alito recalled that episode during his Federalist Society last night, saying the senators had engaged in blatant "bullying" by issuing "a crude threat" aimed at undermining judicial independence.Alito is right. The case involved New York City's on the transportation of firearms, and the senators—Sheldon Whitehouse (D–R.I.), Mazie Hirono (D–Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D–Conn.), Dick Durbin...

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Jacob Sullum
Nov 13
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Trump's Desperate Conspiracy Theories Won't Save His Presidency, but They Might Save His Ego

Trump's Desperate Conspiracy Theories Won't Save His Presidency, but They Might Save His Ego

When Donald Trump he would have won the popular vote in 2016 if it weren't for "the millions of people who voted illegally," he was only trying to magnify his victory over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Now that he seems to be losing a presidential election, his desperate scramble for explanations has produced conspiracy theories that make his 2016 fantasy pale by comparison. Here are a few of the things the president seems to believe, judging from his at the White House last night.Joe Biden can win only with "illegal votes.""If you count the legal votes, I easily win,"...

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Jacob Sullum
Nov 6
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Twitter's Flagging of Trump's Post-Election Tweets Is Haphazard, Irrational, and Ineffectual

Twitter's Flagging of Trump's Post-Election Tweets Is Haphazard, Irrational, and Ineffectual

Illustrating again the haphazardness of Twitter's ineffectual attempts to President Donald Trump's comments on the platform, the company has a bunch of the his post-election tweets as potentially "misleading about an election or other civic process." While a private company has a right to impose whatever rules it wants on people who use its services, the rationale for these decisions is highly dubious.Trump says things that are not true all the time, and so do many other Twitter users. Suppressing, correcting, or flagging all of those misrepresentations would be a hopeless task, and Twitter...

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Jacob Sullum
Nov 5
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Does Owning a Gun Make a Judge's Second Amendment Rulings Suspect?

Does Owning a Gun Make a Judge's Second Amendment Rulings Suspect?

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) was trying to help out Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett when he asked her whether she owns a gun during her yesterday. But the premise of his question—that gun ownership might be viewed as disqualifying a judge from dealing fairly with cases involving the Second Amendment—could not be more absurd. Here is the relevant exchange:Graham: When it comes to your personal views about this topic, do you own a gun?Barrett: We do own a gun.Graham: OK. All right. Do you think you could fairly decide a [Second Amendment] case even...

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Jacob Sullum
Oct 14
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Defending Amy Coney Barrett, Ted Cruz Highlights the Threats That Democrats Pose to Civil Liberties

Defending Amy Coney Barrett, Ted Cruz Highlights the Threats That Democrats Pose to Civil Liberties

Senate Democrats are portraying Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett as a menace to health care, abortion access, and democracy. During Barrett's confirmation hearing today, Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) countered that argument by detailing some of the ways in which justices nominated by a Democratic president could be expected to endanger civil liberties—in particular, freedom of speech and the right to armed self-defense.When Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2016, Cruz noted, she promised to nominate justices who would vote to overturn , the 2010 decision in which the Supreme Court...

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Jacob Sullum
Oct 13
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A Month Before Louisville Drug Warriors Killed Breonna Taylor, They Knew the 'Suspicious Packages' She Supposedly Was Receiving Came From Amazon

A Month Before Louisville Drug Warriors Killed Breonna Taylor, They Knew the 'Suspicious Packages' She Supposedly Was Receiving Came From Amazon

Even after Breonna Taylor broke up with Jamarcus Glover, he continued to receive packages at her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky. That arrangement had , because it was the main justification for the , fruitless March 13 drug raid that killed Taylor, an unarmed 26-year-old EMT with no criminal record.Police to search Taylor's apartment by suggesting that Glover, who was arrested for drug dealing that same night, had been stashing "narcotics and/or proceeds from the sale of narcotics" there. But according to newly released of interviews with Louisville police officers, they knew a month...

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Jacob Sullum
Oct 9
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Nearly 2 Years After Houston Drug Warriors Killed Rhogena Nicholas, Her Family May Get a Chance To Find Out What Happened

Nearly 2 Years After Houston Drug Warriors Killed Rhogena Nicholas, Her Family May Get a Chance To Find Out What Happened

Nearly two years after Houston narcotics officers invaded the home of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas based on a fraudulent search warrant and , we still don't have a clear picture of what happened that day. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, despite his as an avatar of transparency and accountability, has not told us, and the city has been Nicholas' relatives as they try to find out why she died.This week, Harris County Probate Court Judge Jerry Simoneaux dealt a blow to the city's stonewalling by at which he will consider a request by Nicholas' mother and brother to depose the...

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Jacob Sullum
Oct 7
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The Case Against Biden: Joe Biden's Politics of Panic

The Case Against Biden: Joe Biden's Politics of Panic

Confessions of a black bloc mole Plus: A wrongly convicted woman is freed after 17 years, a federal policing commission is ruled unlawful, and more... In younger age groups, the estimated risk is substantially lower than the overall IFR for the seasonal flu. Plus: Trump administration drops bid to block undocumented teens from getting abortions, and more.... California bounds from one crisis to another; most of them being self-imposed.

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Jacob Sullum
Oct 3
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The Trump-Biden Spectacle Was Hilarious and Good for the Republic

The Trump-Biden Spectacle Was Hilarious and Good for the Republic

Chris Wallace, who tried to moderate this week's raucous presidential debate, "a terrible missed opportunity." My 14-year-old daughter, by contrast, thought it was a gas. She watched the debate with rapt attention, laughed repeatedly, and afterward kept going on about how great it was.I cautioned her that the Trump-Biden spectacle was far from typical of presidential debates, which are generally very dull affairs that most people, aside from passionate partisans, watch only out of a vague sense of civic (or professional) duty. But I was also alternately amused and flabbergasted by the...

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Jacob Sullum
Oct 1
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Amy Coney Barrett Condemns Purdue University's 'Fundamentally Unfair' Adjudication of Sexual Assault Claims

Amy Coney Barrett Condemns Purdue University's 'Fundamentally Unfair' Adjudication of Sexual Assault Claims

John and Jane, two students in Purdue University's Navy ROTC program, began dating in the fall of 2015 and had consensual sex 15 to 20 times. According to John, Jane's behavior became increasingly erratic, culminating in a suicide attempt he witnessed that December. They broke up in January 2016, after John tried to get Jane help by reporting her suicide attempt to two resident assistants and an adviser.Three months later, in the midst of the university's s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Jane alleged that John had sexually assaulted her on two occasions. Those charges ultimately led...

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Jacob Sullum
Sep 27
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Amy Coney Barrett Demolishes the Qualified Immunity Claim of a Detective Accused of Framing a Man for Murder

Amy Coney Barrett Demolishes the Qualified Immunity Claim of a Detective Accused of Framing a Man for Murder

After William Rainsberger was arrested for murdering his 88-year-old mother, he spent two months in jail before he was released on bail. A year later, prosecutors dropped the case, citing a lack of evidence. That decision was not surprising, because Rainsberger's arrest was based on a probable cause affidavit written by an Indianapolis detective who misrepresented crucial facts and omitted exculpatory information.The detective, Charles Benner, nevertheless argued that Rainsberger could not sue him under , a federal statute that allows people to seek damages when government officials violate...

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Jacob Sullum
Sep 23
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Amy Coney Barrett Thinks the Second Amendment Prohibits Blanket Bans on Gun Possession by People With Felony Records

Amy Coney Barrett Thinks the Second Amendment Prohibits Blanket Bans on Gun Possession by People With Felony Records

Rickey Kanter, who owned a Wisconsin company that sold therapeutic shoes and footwear inserts under the brand name Dr. Comfort, pleaded guilty in 2011 to one count of mail fraud for shipping inserts he falsely claimed were approved by Medicare to a podiatrist in Florida. Kanter received a prison sentence of a year and day, followed by two years of supervised release. He also paid a $50,000 fine and agreed, in a separate civil settlement, to pay Medicare a $27 million reimbursement. But that was not the end of his punishment, since his felony conviction meant that he permanently lost the...

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Jacob Sullum
Sep 23
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Louisville Will Pay $12 Million to Settle Lawsuit by Breonna Taylor's Family

Louisville Will Pay $12 Million to Settle Lawsuit by Breonna Taylor's Family

The city of Louisville, Kentucky, has reached a with the family of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT who was during a dubious, , and fruitless that has figured prominently in nationwide protests against police brutality. It is by the largest settlement in the city's history based on allegations of police abuse. The family's lawyer, Benjamin Crump, it is also one of the largest payouts in U.S. history for a police killing of a black woman.Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, filed the lawsuit in Jefferson County Circuit Court last April, a month after plainclothes officers invaded Taylor's...

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Jacob Sullum
Sep 15
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The COVID-19 Death Toll Is Rising Much Faster in the U.S. Than in Sweden, Which Now Has Fewer Deaths Per Capita

The COVID-19 Death Toll Is Rising Much Faster in the U.S. Than in Sweden, Which Now Has Fewer Deaths Per Capita

I last week that it was premature to condemn Sweden's approach to COVID-19, which has been notably less restrictive than the policies adopted by other European countries and the United States. At the time, Sweden's per capita COVID-19 death rate was slightly higher than the U.S. rate. Since then, the U.S. rate has surpassed Sweden's, and the trajectory of deaths suggests that Sweden has been more successful at reducing mortality, despite (or perhaps because of) the government's decision to eschew a broad lockdown.According to Worldometer's , the United States so far has seen 594 COVID-19...

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Jacob Sullum
Sep 11
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D.C. Prosecutions Highlight the Connection Between Gun Control and Racial Disparities

D.C. Prosecutions Highlight the Connection Between Gun Control and Racial Disparities

An anti-gun initiative in Washington, D.C., that was backed by Mayor Muriel Bowser is because it has focused on predominantly black parts of the city. The controversy over the program, which prosecutes residents for violating the federal ban on firearm possession by people with felony records, illustrates the tension between two major items on the progressive agenda: strengthening gun control and reducing racial disparities in law enforcement. Those goals are hard to reconcile because enforcing firearm laws has a disproportionate impact on African Americans.Originally that was by design....

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Jacob Sullum
Sep 4
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Joe Biden Does Not Understand the Second Amendment

Joe Biden Does Not Understand the Second Amendment

When it California's 10-round magazine limit last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit emphasized what Americans commonly do when they exercise their constitutional right to armed self-defense. Joe Biden, by contrast, thinks the relevant question is how many shells Americans are allowed to have in their shotguns when they hunt migratory birds.Those two approaches represent the difference between judges who take the Second Amendment seriously and politicians who only pay lip service to it. Biden's presidential campaign, which a raft of new gun restrictions while barely...

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Jacob Sullum
Aug 19
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Kamala Harris Is So 'Radical,' Trump's Campaign Says, That She Criticized Joe Biden's Criminal Justice Record. So Does Trump.

Kamala Harris Is So 'Radical,' Trump's Campaign Says, That She Criticized Joe Biden's Criminal Justice Record. So Does Trump.

President Donald Trump's re-election campaign, which is depicting Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), Joe Biden's vice presidential pick, as "far left" and "radical," was quick to note that the senator has criticized her running mate's on criminal justice issues. Yet so have the Trump campaign and the president himself, which makes it hard to tell whether this point is meant to reflect badly on Harris or on Biden."Harris has repeatedly slammed Biden, going so far as to say that he supported racist policies that hurt the Black community," says a from the Trump campaign. "Harris said Biden's 1994...

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Jacob Sullum
Aug 12
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Chicago Residents Wait Months for Permission To Defend Themselves

Chicago Residents Wait Months for Permission To Defend Themselves

If you live in Chicago, you might be thinking about buying a gun to protect yourself, your family, your home, or your business against rioters, looters, and assorted violent criminals. But before you can exercise your Second Amendment rights in Illinois, you need permission from the state police, a process that can take months.Contrary to a that requires approval or denial of an application for a firearm owner's identification (FOID) card within 30 days, Illinois residents often wait two or three times as long. Such delays are plainly unconstitutional, according to a filed last month by the...

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Jacob Sullum
Aug 12
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Grand Jury Indictments Paint a Picture of Deadly Deceit in Houston Narcotics Division

Grand Jury Indictments Paint a Picture of Deadly Deceit in Houston Narcotics Division

A Harris County, Texas, grand jury has confirmed the against six former Houston narcotics officers that District Attorney Kim Ogg announced on July 1, while adding two more counts against one of the defendants. The include falsification of search warrants, fraudulent reports of drug purchases, and phony overtime claims. The indictments, which were on Friday, reflect the shady practices and lax supervision that enabled veteran Houston police officer Gerald Goines to instigate a based on a drug sale that .All six defendants—three officers, two sergeants, and a lieutenant—worked for the...

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Jacob Sullum
Aug 3
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