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Weekly Roundup: February 5, 2021


At the Blog

This week concluded our symposium on Hanoch Dagan’s forthcoming A Liberal Theory of Property:

Lua Yuille argued that basing property on an ideal of autonomy is a mistake in a world of deep interdependence.

Ezra Rosser praised Dagan for articulating a theory of property that leaves rooms for those who are critical of the very idea.

Then Dagan himself responded, first to those who wondered whether liberal theories of property are self-defeating and then to those who wondered whether they are distractingly utopian.

At the Project

The big news this week is that we’ve formally announced the reconstruction of last April’s COVID-cancelled “Democracy Against Neoliberalism” mega-conference. Some panels will convert into live video events and some into blog symposia. See the details here and register for the live events!

Elsewhere on the Internet

Anna Wherry

In the NYTimes, a horrifying exposé on how wealthy hospitals use lien laws to “bypass insurers” and charge patients–often patients on Medicaid–the full amount of their post-accident care. This practice cuts into the pain and suffering damages patients receive for their injuries and allows hospitals to get around the contractually-required discounts for insurers. 

This op-ed on how Biden can use the Defense Production Act and Bayh-Dole Act to fix the “IP bottle neck” and expand vaccine production. Some of the author’s arguments echo those made back in March 2020 on expanding PPE production. 

Catherine Coleman Flower released her book Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret last year. The book chronicles her fight to bring basic sanitation to rural areas in the U.S and reveals the class and racial disparities that allow for sanitation deprivation to happen. I haven’t read it–yet. For those who are short on time now, like me, I recommend this review in the NY Review of Books, which brings her work into conversation with the depression era We Must Now Praise Famous Men. 

Not legal, but here is a great podcast from the LRB reviewing Ursula K. LeGuin’s legacy and writing for young adults.

Sam Aber

Here Christopher Rogers and Jordan Street argue that the United Nations relatively new counterterrorism initiatives have, thus far, mostly provided cover for authoritarianism abroad. American post-9/11 counterterrorism policy has provided a valuable model for other programs around the world, and reforming it is the place to start, if the country is to have any authority to challenge other nations’ policies at an international level. (One is also reminded of the growing international taste for the American-style presidency. Why might aspiring autocrats in constitutional governments want something like that?)

A couple other little snippets of war-on-terror news. First, the COVID vaccine debate has come to GTMO: the DoD, apparently in response to criticism from Republicans, rolled back its plans to vaccinate the prison’s 40 remaining inmates. The move violates the laws of war, and is of course epidemiologically nonsensical. Second, here’s Andrew Cockburn on drones.

I have, finally, been reading some of the docket from Clearview AI v. ACLU, a fascinating and potentially very significant challenge to an Illinois privacy law, which is ongoing in my hometown federal court, the Circuit Court of Cook County. For those who haven’t heard of Clearview AI, it is a facial recognition tech company (this New York Times article is a good overview), and it encapsulates the reasons that LPE-oriented folks should be worried about surveillance. Clearview’s technology, put simply, has put at the disposal of private individuals (specifically the rich, including Ashton Kutcher, apparently) and the state (specifically police departments and federal law enforcement—see the first Times piece) an extremely powerful and unaccountable tool for easily identifying anybody almost anywhere, and without their consent.A number of Illinois civil society organizations including Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation and the Sex Workers Outreach Project Chicago, along with the ACLU, have sued. But a number of prominent liberal First Amendment lawyers and scholars have come out on the Clearview Side; Floyd Abrams leads their counsel, and the Duke First Amendment Clinic recently filed an Amicus Brief on their behalf. They argue that the Illinois privacy law violates the First Amendment. The Court is presently considering Clearview’s motion to dismiss, so more will unfold in the coming year. But already the case represents another striking step in the bizarre perversion of the First Amendment. (Consider, too, that ours is also a moment in which Republican state legislatures are using the Capitol Riot as cover to push through anti-protest bills that originated during the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.) Faced with technological circumstances for which the case law has no answer, the First Amendment is increasingly being used as a deregulatory cudgel serving the interests of law enforcement and the rich—rather than, say, a protector of political dissent and a bulwark for self-government.