Friday, January 30, 2009


January 30, 2009 --
WASHINGTON - Buried deep inside the massive spending orgy that Democrats jammed through the House this week lie five words that could drastically undo two decades of welfare reforms.
The very heart of the widely applauded Welfare Reform Act of 1996 is a cap on the amount of federal cash that can be sent to states each year for welfare payments.
But, thanks to the simple phrase slipped into the legislation, the new "stimulus" bill abolishes the limits on the amount of federal money for the so-called Emergency Fund, which ships welfare cash to states.
"Out of any money in the Treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, there are appropriated such sums as are necessary for payment to the Emergency Fund," Democrats wrote in Section 2101 on Page 354 of the $819 billion bill. In other words, the only limit on welfare payments would be the Treasury itself.
"This re-establishes the welfare state and creates dependency all over the place," said one startled budget analyst after reading the line.
In addition to reopening the floodgates of dependency on federal welfare programs, the change once again deepens the dependency of state governments on the federal government.
President Obama won on promises of changing the way Washington works.
Gripped by perhaps the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Americans of every political stripe opted for "change."
Sick of reckless government, sleazy lobbyists, wild spending and deep borrowing that has scuttled America's great economic engine, voters embraced Obama's promise to be "post-partisan" and usher into the government a new era of responsibility and common sense.
But his presidency isn't two weeks old, and already warning flags have gone up.
Obama is wallpapering his administration with lobbyists, installed a tax cheat to run the Treasury Department and is pushing Congress to pass a massive, wildly unaffordable "stimulus" bill loaded with pork and reckless spending that plunges Americans even deeper into debt.
Even worse, the bill every day looks more like 15 years of pent-up big-government liberalism than an economic "stimulus" plan.
Ever since his election, many Americans have wondered which Barack Obama would show up at the White House: the most liberal member of the Senate or the post-partisan bearer of change we could all believe in.
One thing is clear: His "stimulus" bill is not change we can believe in. It's a return to big-government welfare that we will choke on.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Michelle Obama’s Job Eliminated

Michelle Obama’s Job Eliminated
Chicago Daily Observer 14 January 2009 51 Comments
She hasn’t shown up for work very regularly over the last year or so, so when Michelle Obama’s $300,000 job was cut at the University of Chicago Hospitals, it may have been hard to notice the difference. Crain’s skipped the part about the incoming First Lady, must have been an oversight in their expert analysis of Chicago Business, because we know Crain’s is “Not show business. All business”.
The Tribune announced the layoff without much analysis, but let the cat far enough out of the bag to prompt our Don Rose to question how important Michelle Obama’s job must have been, as it was so easily eliminated. The New Republic gnashes their dentures at the how a community can be served without Michelle Obama, despite the void of actual labor she has performed while being on the campaign trail. The comments are much more informative than the article in TNR.
The Washington Post smells a rat, with a critical article of a lawyer from U of C hospitals, who worked with Michelle Obama in implementing a rationalization of emergency healthcare delivery. The lawyer, Susan Sher, had the nerve to co-operate with President Bush and the Federal Government’s initiatives to deliver emergency care in the emergency room, and everyday care in health clinics. No word on the Michelle’s level of co-operation with the Bush administration at her executive position.
The Univesity of Chicago Press Room continues to impress with stories about blood cancer therapies and a Webcast of innovative cardiac surgery, but is tight lipped about layoffs effecting the First Lady and 15 other senior executives.

see all comments here:,2486


Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Minnesota Recount Was Unconstitutional

The Minnesota Recount Was Unconstitutional
There's still plenty of time for the state to get it right.

You would think people would learn. The recount in the contest between Norm Coleman and Al Franken for a seat in the U.S. Senate isn't just embarrassing. It is unconstitutional.
A disputed ballot in Minnesota.
This is Florida 2000 all over again, but with colder weather. Like that fiasco, Minnesota's muck of a process violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, the controlling Supreme Court decision is none other than Bush v. Gore.
Remember Florida? Local officials conducting recounts could not decide what counted as a legal vote. Hanging chads? Dimpled chads? Should "undervotes" count (where a machine failed to read an incompletely-punched card)? What about "overvotes" (where voters punched more than one hole)? Different counties used different standards; different precincts within counties were inconsistent.
The Florida Supreme Court intervened and made things worse, ordering a statewide recount of some types of rejected ballots but not others. It specified no standards for what should count as a valid vote, leaving the judgment to each county. And it ordered partial recounts already conducted in some counties (but not others) included in the final tabulation. The result was chaos.
By a vote of 7-2, Bush v. Gore (2000) ruled that Florida's recount violated the principle that all votes must be treated uniformly. Applying precedents dating to the 1960s, the Court found that the Equal Protection Clause meant that ballots must be treated so as to give every vote equal weight. A state may not, by "arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person's vote over that of another." Florida's lack of standards produced "unequal evaluation of ballots in several respects." The state's supreme court "ratified this uneven treatment" and created more of its own, and was unconstitutional.
Bush v. Gore is rightly regarded as controversial -- but not because of its holding regarding the Equal Protection Clause, which commanded broad agreement among the justices. The controversy arose because of the remedy the Court chose for Florida's violation, which was to end the recount entirely. The majority thought that time was up under Florida law requiring that its results be submitted in time to be included in the Electoral College count. That aspect of Bush v. Gore commanded only five votes. Two justices thought Florida should get more time and another chance.
The problem with the remedy was that it arguably violated the same principle that led the Court to invalidate the recount: the need to treat all votes equally. It had the practical effect of awarding the election to Bush (though subsequent media counts confirmed that Bush won anyway, under any uniform standard). This has led to enduring partisan criticism of the case, some fair and some unfair.
But no matter: Bush v. Gore is the law of the land. On the question of how the Equal Protection Clause applies to state recounts, the ruling, which reflected a 7-2 majority, controls.
Minnesota is Bush v. Gore reloaded. The details differ, but not in terms of arbitrariness, lack of uniform standards, inconsistency in how local recounts were conducted and counted, and strange state court decisions.
Consider the inconsistencies: One county "found" 100 new votes for Mr. Franken, due to an asserted clerical error. Decision? Add them. Ramsey County (St. Paul) ended up with 177 more votes than were recorded election day. Decision? Count them. Hennepin County (Minneapolis, where I voted -- once, to my knowledge) came up with 133 fewer votes than were recorded by the machines. Decision? Go with the machines' tally. All told, the recount in 25 precincts ended up producing more votes than voters who signed in that day.
Then there's Minnesota's (first, so far) state Supreme Court decision, Coleman v. Ritchie, decided by a vote of 3-2 on Dec. 18. (Two justices recused themselves because they were members of the state canvassing board.) While not as bad as Florida's interventions, the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered local boards to count some previously excluded absentee ballots but not others. Astonishingly, the court left the decision as to which votes to count to the two competing campaigns and forbade local election officials to correct errors on their own.
If Messrs. Franken and Coleman agreed, an absentee ballot could be counted. Either campaign could veto a vote. Dean Barkley of the Independence Party, who ran third, was not included in this process.
Thus, citizens' right to vote -- the right to vote! -- was made subject to political parties' gaming strategies. Insiders agree that Mr. Franken's team played a far more savvy game than Mr. Coleman's. The margin of Mr. Franken's current lead is partly the product of a successful what's-mine-is-mine-what's-yours-is-vetoed strategy, and of the Coleman team's failure to counter it.
The process is not over yet, since the state court decision in effect kicked the can down the road. The candidates can revisit these issues by contesting the legal validity of the election under state law -- which Mr. Coleman's team did last week.
But as matters stand now, the Minnesota recount is a legal train wreck. The result, a narrow Franken lead, is plainly invalid. Just as in Bush v. Gore, the recount has involved "unequal evaluation of ballots in several respect" and failed to provide "minimal procedural safeguards" of equal treatment of all ballots. Legally, it does not matter which candidate benefited from all these differences in treatment. (Mr. Franken did.) The different treatment makes the results not only unreliable (and suspicious), but unconstitutional.
What is the remedy? Unlike Bush v. Gore, there is no looming national deadline. Minnesota can take its time and do things right.
This means two things: First, the process must conform to Minnesota election law. Second, it must conform to Bush v. Gore. Whatever standards Minnesota uses must be applied uniformly, consistently, and under clear standards not admitting of local variation. Discrepancies between machine counts and hand recounts, and between numbers of recorded votes and signed-in voters, however resolved, must be resolved the same way throughout the state.
The standards for evaluating rejected absentee ballots likewise must be uniform, with decisions made according to legal standards, not by partisan campaigns. If the Minnesota Supreme Court fails to assure these things, the matter could go right up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
And what if there is no reliable way to determine in a recount who won, consistent with Bush v. Gore's requirements?
The Constitution's answer is a do-over. The 17th Amendment provides: "When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct."
In a sense, a vacancy has already "happened." The U.S. Senate convened on Jan. 6 with only one senator from Minnesota. Still, the seat is perhaps not "vacant," just unfilled. But if the contest proceeding does not produce a clear winner that passes constitutional muster, a special election -- and a temporary appointment by Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- may be the only answer.
For now, the only thing certain is that the present "certified" result -- which is that Mr. Franken won by 225 votes out of more than 2.9 million cast -- is an obvious, embarrassing violation of the Constitution.
Mr. Paulsen is professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minn. He is formerly associate dean of the University of Minnesota Law School.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

...Norwegian Dawn...

Europe Reimports Jew Hatred

JANUARY 13, 2009
Europe Reimports Jew Hatred
The mythical Arab Street now reaches deep into Paris, London, Berlin and Madrid.

Give Giancarlo Desiderati credit for his unintellectual honesty. While most left-wing detractors of Israel claim their animosity toward the Jewish state has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, the head of a small Italian union, Flaica-Uniti-Cub, wasted no time with such sophism. Having long called for a boycott of Israeli goods, Mr. Desiderati last week made the logical next step. "Do not buy anything from businesses run by the Jewish community," his group's Web site urged Italians.
Getty Images
Adolf Hitler talking to the Palestinian leader, the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al Husseini.
Jews around Europe are increasingly under attack since Israel decided two weeks ago to defend itself after years of rocket fire at its civilian population. There have been arson attempts on synagogues in Britain, Belgium and Germany. Police last week arrested Muslim protesters who wanted to enter the Jewish quarter in Antwerp. Several Danish schools with large Muslim student bodies say they won't enroll Jewish kids because they can't guarantee the children's safety. In France, a group of teenagers attacked a 14-year-old girl last week, calling her "dirty Jew" while kicking her.
At rallies in Germany and the Netherlands over the past two weeks, protesters shouted, "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas." In Amsterdam, Socialist lawmaker Harry van Bommel and Greta Duisenberg, widow of the first European Central Bank president, marched at the front of one such "peace" demonstration. They didn't join in the background chorus calling for another Holocaust. Instead, they chanted, "Intifada, Intifada, Free Palestine." Mr. Van Bommel later insisted this wasn't a call for Jewish blood but for "civil disobedience" -- a laughable defense given that terrorists during the last intifada murdered more than 1,000 Israelis.
Most of the anti-Jewish violence and protests in Europe come from immigrants. In what may have been a Freudian recognition of the changing face of Europe, CNN two weeks ago used footage of anti-Israeli protesters in London in a report about the growing anger in the "Arab and Muslim world." The mythical Arab Street now reaches deep into Paris, London, Berlin and Madrid.
After a burning car was rammed into a gate outside a synagogue in Toulouse last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a statement that was as morally confused as his judgment of Israel's Gaza offensive. Mr. Sarkozy, who condemned both Hamas terror and Israel's attempt to stop it, also blurred the distinction between the victims and perpetrators of anti-Semitism in France.
His country "will not tolerate international tensions mutating into intercommunity violence," he warned, suggesting that the violence in France comes not only from French Muslims but Jews as well. Mr. Sarkozy's comments also suggest that the fighting in Gaza is the cause for attacks on Jews in France -- that is, that the Mideast conflict is fueling anti-Semitism in Europe. It is exactly the other way around.
The rage against the Jews that is exploding in Europe has been carefully nurtured; it is not spontaneous sympathy for fellow Muslims in Gaza. How else to explain the silence when Muslims in other conflicts, from Darfur to Chechnya, are being killed?
The depth of anti-Semitic propaganda in Palestinian and other Muslim societies is one of the most underreported facts about the Middle East. It is this anti-Semitism that predisposes Muslims in Europe to attack Jews and fuels the Mideast conflict. The hatred predates Israel's creation. To illustrate this point: The Palestinian leader during World War II, Hajj Amin al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, conspired with Hitler to bring the Holocaust to Palestine. Luckily, the British stopped the German troops in Africa. The Mufti spent the war years in Berlin and was later indicted for war crimes but with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood escaped to Egypt. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hamas and other Islamists continue what the Mufti had helped to start: a blend of European anti-Semitism and Islam-inspired Jew hatred. The rejection of Israel's right to exist is what drives their attacks. The media, though, largely ignores Hamas's ideology and its crimes of hiding its leaders and weapons among its own civilian population, and demonizes Israel's attempt to protect its citizens.
Hamas and other Islamists are not even trying to hide their ideology. Just read the Hamas charter or check out Hamas TV, including children's programs, for a nauseating dose of murderous anti-Semitism. Last week, the French broadcasting authorities banned Hamas TV for inciting violence and hatred. Unfortunately, just like Hezbollah TV, which is also banned in Europe for its anti-Semitic and jihadi content, audiences here can still receive these programs due to Saudi Arabia's Arabsat and Egyptian satellite provider Nilesat.
The Islamist variation of Jew hatred is now being reimported to Europe. Muslims in Europe, watching Hamas and Hezbollah TV with their satellite dishes, are being fed the same diet of anti-Semitism and jihadi ideology that Palestinians and much of the Middle East consume.
This brings a unique challenge to the difficult integration of Muslims in Europe. When it comes to issues like Shariah law and terrorism, one can expect a true "clash of civilizations." There is no Western tradition that would justify "honor killings." Anti-Semitism, on the other hand, is not alien to Europe's culture -- to the contrary, the Continent once excelled at it and many still share the feeling.
A Pew study from September shows 25% of Germans and 20% of French are still affected by this virus. In Spain, 46% have unfavorable views of Jews. Is there really no connection between this statistic and the fact that the Spanish media and government are among Europe's most hostile toward the Jewish state? Is it just a coincidence that Europe's largest anti-Israel demonstration took place Sunday in Spain, with more than 100,000 protesters?
A 2006 study in the Journal of Conflict Resolution based on the survey in 10 European countries suggests otherwise. Yale University's Edward H. Kaplan and Charles A. Small found "that anti-Israel sentiment consistently predicts the probability that an individual is anti-Semitic, with the likelihood of measured anti-Semitism increasing with the extent of anti-Israel sentiment observed."
With little hope that the media coverage will become more balanced and the incitement of the growing Muslim community will abate, the Jews in Europe are facing uncertain times.
Mr. Schwammenthal edits the State of the Union column.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ending the West's Proxy War Against Israel

From The Wall Street Journal
By GUNNAR HEINSOHN From today's Wall Street Journal Europe
As the world decries Israel's attempt to defend itself from the rocket attacks coming from Gaza, consider this: When Hamas routed Fatah in Gaza in 2007, it cost nearly 350 lives and 1,000 wounded. Fatah's surrender brought only a temporary stop to the type of violence and bloodshed that are commonly seen in lands where at least 30% of the male population is in the 15-to-29 age bracket.
Barbara Kelley
In such "youth bulge" countries, young men tend to eliminate each other or get killed in aggressive wars until a balance is reached between their ambitions and the number of acceptable positions available in their society. In Arab nations such as Lebanon (150,000 dead in the civil war between 1975 and 1990) or Algeria (200,000 dead in the Islamists' war against their own people between 1999 and 2006), the slaughter abated only when the fertility rates in these countries fell from seven children per woman to fewer than two. The warring stopped because no more warriors were being born.
In Gaza, however, there has been no demographic disarmament. The average woman still bears six babies. For every 1,000 men aged 40-44, there are 4,300 boys aged 0-4 years. In the U.S. the latter figure is 1,000, and in the U.K. it's only 670.
And so the killing continues. In 2005, when Israel was still an occupying force, Gaza lost more young men to gang fights and crime than in its war against the "Zionist enemy." Despite the media's obsession with the Mideast conflict, it has cost many fewer lives than the youth bulges in West Africa, Lebanon or Algeria. In the six decades since Israel's founding, "only" some 62,000 people (40,000 Arabs, 22,000 Jews) have been killed in all the Israeli-Arab wars and Palestinian terror attacks. During that same time, some 11 million Muslims have been killed in wars and terror attacks -- mostly at the hands of other Muslims.
What accounts for the Mideast conflict's relatively low body count? Hamas and their ilk certainly aim to kill as many Israelis as possible. To their indignation, the Israelis are quite good at protecting themselves. On the other hand, Israel, despite all the talk about its "disproportionate" use of force, is doing its utmost to spare civilian deaths. Even Hamas acknowledges that most of the Palestinians killed by Israeli air raids are from their own ranks. But about 10%-15% of Gaza's casualties are women and minors -- a tragedy impossible to prevent in a densely settled area in which nearly half the people are under 15 and the terrorists hide among them.
The reason for Gaza's endless youth bulge is that a large majority of its population does not have to provide for its offspring. Most babies are fed, clothed, vaccinated and educated by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Unlike the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, which deals with the rest of the world's refugees and aims to settle them in their respective host countries, UNRWA perpetuates the Palestinian problem by classifying as refugees not only those who originally fled their homes, but all of their descendents as well.
UNRWA is benevolently funded by the U.S. (31%) and the European Union (nearly 50%) -- only 7% of the funds come from Muslim sources. Thanks to the West's largesse, nearly the entire population of Gaza lives in a kind of lowly but regularly paid dependence. One result of this unlimited welfare is an endless population boom. Between 1950 and 2008, Gaza's population has grown from 240,000 to 1.5 million. The West basically created a new Near Eastern people in Gaza that at current trends will reach three million in 2040. Within that period, Gazans may alter the justifications and directions of their aggression but are unlikely to stop the aggression itself.
The Hamas-Fatah truce of June 2007 allowed the Islamists again to direct all their energy on attacking Israel. The West pays for food, schools, medicine and housing, while Muslim nations help out with the military hardware. Unrestrained by such necessities as having to earn a living, the young have plenty of time on their hands for digging tunnels, smuggling, assembling missiles and firing 4,500 of them at Israel since 2006. While this gruesome activity has slowed the Palestinian internecine slaughter, it forced some 250,000 Israelis into bomb shelters.
The current situation can only get worse. Israel is being pushed into a corner. Gazan teenagers have no future other than war. One rocket master killed is immediately replaced by three young men for whom a martyr's death is no less honorable than victory. Some 230,000 Gazan males, aged 15 to 29, who are available for the battlefield now, will be succeeded by 360,000 boys under 15 (45% of all Gazan males) who could be taking up arms within the coming 15 years.
As long as we continue to subsidize Gaza's extreme demographic armament, young Palestinians will likely continue killing their brothers or neighbors. And yet, despite claiming that it wants to bring peace to the region, the West continues to make the population explosion in Gaza worse every year. By generously supporting UNRWA's budget, the West assists a rate of population increase that is 10 times higher than in their own countries. Much is being said about Iran waging a proxy war against Israel by supporting Hezbollah and Hamas. One may argue that by fueling Gaza's untenable population explosion, the West unintentionally finances a war by proxy against the Jews of Israel.
If we seriously want to avoid another generation of war in Gaza, we must have the courage to tell the Gazans that they will have to start looking after their children themselves, without UNRWA's help. This would force Palestinians to focus on building an economy instead of freeing them up to wage war. Of course, every baby lured into the world by our money up to now would still have our assistance.
If we make this urgently needed reform, then by at least 2025 many boys in Gaza -- like in Algeria -- would enter puberty as only sons. They would be able to look forward to a more secure future in a less violent society.
If the West prefers calm around Gaza even before 2025, it may consider offering immigration to those young Palestinians only born because of the West's well-meant but cruelly misguided aid. In the decades to come, North America and Europe will have to take in tens of millions of immigrants anyway to slow the aging of their populations. If, say, 200,000 of them are taken from the 360,000 boys coming of age in Gaza in the next 15 years, that would be a negligible move for the big democracies but a quantum leap for peace in the Near East.
Many of Gaza's young -- like in much of the Muslim world -- dream of leaving anyway. Who would not want to get out of that strip of land but the international NGOs and social workers whose careers depend on perpetuating Gaza's misery?
Mr. Heinsohn heads the Raphael Lemkin Institute at the University of Bremen, Europe's first institute devoted to comparative genocide research.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Children of Hamas

Hamas admits it uses human shields

'Libel Tourism' Threatens Free Speech

The farce of foreigners suing Americans for defamation in overseas forums, where the law does not sufficiently protect free speech, is so well-known that it has a fitting nickname: libel tourism. And London is its hot destination. Particularly since 9/11, foreign nationals have cynically exploited British courts in an attempt to stifle any discussion by American journalists about the dangers of jihadist ideology and terrorist supporters.
At long last, U.S. politicians are waking up to the dangers posed by libel tourism, which threatens both the First Amendment and American national security. The trouble is that their efforts, though well-intentioned, are relatively toothless and constitutionally problematic.

Early last year, New York State passed the nation's first anti-libel tourism law. The law allows state courts to assert authority over foreign citizens based solely on a libel judgment they have obtained abroad against a New Yorker.
The statute's passage was prompted by libel tourism's most frequent flier, Saudi bigwig Khalid bin Mahfouz. He brought a claim in England against author Rachel Ehrenfeld, who alleged in a 2003 book that the international moneyman also financed terrorism. Although "Funding Evil" was published in the U.S., Mr. Mahfouz relied upon (and the British court accepted) the fact that the book was purchased by a small number of British readers on the Internet as sufficient grounds to sue Ms. Ehrenfeld in England.
Under the New York law, the target of a foreign libel suit does not even have to defend himself overseas. If a judgment is entered against him, he can seek a declaration that the foreign tribunal did not live up to First Amendment standards and therefore its ruling cannot be enforced against his U.S. assets. While emotionally satisfying, it does not protect a libel tourism victim's assets outside the U.S.
Moreover, the New York law takes a constitutionally dubious approach to the acquisition of personal jurisdiction over libel tourists. U.S courts have never before claimed jurisdiction over individuals who have no ties whatsoever to the U.S., other than suing an American in a foreign court.
Rep. Peter King (D., N.Y.) and Sens. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) and Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) have been advancing federal libel tourism bills. Unfortunately these bills, which are modeled on New York's, carry the same constitutional risks.
It is a mistake to respond to libel tourism by seeking to catch foreign plaintiffs with no U.S. contacts in our jurisdictional net. This smacks of the same legal one-upmanship that makes libel tourism itself so odious.
It is high time for a strategy that would stop libel tourists dead in their tracks, without sacrificing constitutional values. The answer lies not in stretching claims of personal jurisdiction, but in federal legislation that would enable American publishers to sue for damages, including punitive damages, for the harms they have suffered. A proper federal libel tourism bill would punish conduct that takes place overseas -- in this case, the commencement of sham libel actions in foreign courts -- by utilizing the well-recognized congressional authority to apply U.S. laws extraterritorially when compelling interests demand it. The Alien Tort Statute, for example, gives U.S. courts subject matter jurisdiction over brutal acts that violate the "law of nations" wherever they may occur. More recently, Congress has created civil remedies to enable victims of international terrorism and human trafficking to sue in our courts for money damages.
But in devising a robust, substantive cause of action for damages -- a bludgeon that Messrs. King, Specter and Lieberman appropriately include in their bills -- Congress should not change normal personal jurisdiction rules. In order to sue foreigners under the federal libel tourism bill and remain consistent with due process, these individuals would have to visit or transact business in the U.S. in order for the U.S. courts to acquire jurisdiction over them. (Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader charged with genocide, was famously served with an Alien Tort complaint while leaving a Manhattan hotel restaurant.)
Under such a law, U.S. courts would be asked to evaluate, at the beginning stages of a foreign lawsuit, whether the plaintiffs are seeking to punish speech protected under the First Amendment. This type of early intervention by judges has worked very well in the 26 states that have passed laws to discourage frivolous libel suits here in the U.S.
To give this approach sufficiently sharp teeth, the damages awarded in libel tourism cases would have to be very substantial. While it is somewhat unusual in tort law to set statutory damages, it presents no constitutional problems. Accordingly, an effective federal bill should give courts the authority to impose damages that amount to double any foreign judgment, plus court costs and attorneys' fees (in both proceedings) for good measure. Habitual libel tourists who obviously seek to impair Americans' First Amendment freedoms should face even stiffer fines. Such a robust response would make foreign libel adventures fiscally disadvantageous, and should deter most overseas suits from ever being filed.
For libel tourists our courts can't fairly touch, it is better to leave them alone than to overreach and tread into unconstitutional territory. But they may yet pay a price. Availing themselves the pleasures of American life could one day be costly. As Karadzic learned, if you violate U.S. law, don't dine out in Manhattan.
Messrs. Rivkin and Brown are partners in the Washington, D.C., office of Baker Hostetler LLP.
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