Informal, Worse Than Formal

Informal prior restraints—government pressure without formal sanction—are even more unconstitutional than formal ones, as the Supreme Court noted in Bantam Books v. Sullivan (1963). In that case, the Court forbade the Rhode Island Commission to Encourage Morality in Youth from sending threatening letters to book distributors in an attempt to nudge the distributors into not carrying “obscene” material.

But that strong precedent didn’t stop Cook County (Chicago) Sheriff Thomas Dart and his crusade against, an online commerce site similar to Craigslist. Rather than trying to get a formal prior restraint from a court, Dart used his office, letterhead, and title to send letters threatening investigation to Visa and MasterCard (Backpage’s primary financial transaction processors) to pressure them into dropping Backpage as a customer.

Via Chicago’s Sheriff Crusades against Online Ads | Cato@Liberty.

Online, 10.20: Perilous Partners: The Benefits and Pitfalls of America’s Alliances with Authoritarian Regimes

Featuring the authors Ted Galen Carpenter, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute; and Malou Innocent, Adjunct Scholar, Cato Institute; with comments by Andrew J. Bacevich, Professor Emeritus of History and International Relations, Boston University; and Jacob Heilbrunn, Editor, The National Interest; moderated byChristopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute.

Online 10.20.15 12-1:30 PM ET @ CatoLIVE.

Worst Police Misconduct of September

“Here’s the background: CBS Chicago reports on a lawsuit filed by Roberts against the City of Chicago. According to Roberts, he was falsely arrested and roughed up by the police following a traffic stop. Roberts says the abuse of power began once the officers discovered that he worked for the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police misconduct. Mysteriously, several police cameras were shut down, contrary to department policy. Here is an excerpt from the news story….”

Via Police Misconduct — The Worst Case in September | Cato @ Liberty.

Big-Government Republican Ignores Rand Paul

Namely, Michael Gerson –

What’s missing? Well, Rand Paul talked about marijuana reform, an issue that is far more popular than the Republican Party, especially among younger voters. And criminal justice and incarceration, an issue of special concern to minorities. And especially about our endless wars in the Middle East, at a time when 63 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of independents say that the Iraq war was not worth the costs, and when 52 percent of Americans say the United States “should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.” (Not the best formulation, as noninterventionists are not opposed to international activity, just to imprudent military action. But you go to print with the polls you have, not the polls you wish you had.) Those are attempts to reach new audiences that a fair-minded debate watcher would have noticed.

Via Ignoring Rand Paul from Cato @ Liberty.

Trimming the Department of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture provides an array of subsidies for farmers and imposes extensive regulations on agricultural markets. It operates the food stamp and school lunch programs, and it administers numerous subsidy programs for rural parts of the nation. The Forest Service is also within the Department of Agriculture.

The department will spend $148 billion in 2015, or $1,203 for every U.S. household. It operates about 266 subsidy programs and employs 91,000 workers in about 7,000 offices across the country.

Via Downsizing the Department of Agriculture @ Cato.

Improving the view


“Individual liberty and limited government now light up Times Square.  All summer long, Cato’s commitment to stopping the government from overspending, overregulation, policing the world, and invading our privacy will be shining down to passersby from a jumbo screen.  To those visiting Cato’s site for the first time:  Welcome!  We hope you’ll take an opportunity to learn more about our work on the subjects you’ve seen on our screen, along with the wide range of other current, new, and emerging issues Cato scholars are exploring every day….”

Via Cato in Times Square @ Cato Institute.

Snowden @ Cato Surveillance Summit

This inaugural Cato Institute Surveillance Conference will explore these questions, guided by a diverse array of experts: top journalists and privacy advocates; lawyers and technologists; intelligence officials … and those who’ve been targets of surveillance. Most notably is Edward Snowden, a former NSA Contractor and renowned whistleblower who leaked classified information from the National Security…

Why Liberty? Freedom Abroad

Today, thousands of Venezuelans are protesting Nicolás Maduro government. Juan Carlos recalls his experience in Caracas, Venezuela witnessing the struggle for freedom and liberty. Juan Carlos Hidalgo is a Policy Analyst on Latin America at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute. Via Cato Institute Video.

Why Liberty? Firearms and Freedoms

Draconian gun laws ruin lives — Brian Aitken is a media consultant and web entrepreneur. He is the author of the book “The Blue Tent Sky: How the Left’s War on Guns Cost Me My Son and My Freedom.” Via Cato Institute Video.

Cato & Reason

The number of genuine and exciting libertarian publications is small.  Cato & Reason are the two publishers known to most people. The Cato Institute’s political analysis is among the among the best in America, and a match for any other ideology’s think tanks.  But all of its work is intentionally that of a think tank:…

One Year Later

America’s first real debate about the 21st century surveillance state began one year ago. There had, of course, been no previous shortage of hearings, op-eds, and panels mulling the appropriate “balance between privacy and security” in the post-9/11 era. But for the masses who lacked a security clearance, these had the character of a middle…