A Facebook Deal That Needs Unfriending

Time to end class-action settlements that only reward lawyers, not plaintiffs.
By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey 

The Supreme Court will soon decide whether to hear a case that could determine the future of particularly abusive class-action settlements. Not abusive in the usual sense, where a class of injured plaintiffs is awarded an exorbitant amount. Instead, these settlements are abusive in that absolutely nothing goes to the injured plaintiffs. At issue is whether federal courts may approve such agreements rewarding lawyers and defendants, leaving plaintiffs out in the cold.

The case is Marek v. Lane, and it arose out of Facebook’s notorious 2007 “Beacon” program. Beacon gathered and published information about Facebook users’ other Internet activities as an advertising and marketing tool, invading the privacy of millions. It may also have violated a number of state and federal laws, including the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act, which includes a liquidated-damages provision of $2,500 for each offense. A class-action suit was filed in 2008 on behalf of as many as 3.6 million injured social networkers.

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The True Lesson of the IRS Scandal

There should be less federal regulation of political speech.

By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey

President Obama and his political allies have dismissed as “phony scandals” mounting evidence that the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies hindered and punished conservative advocacy groups. Meanwhile, efforts are under way to impose even more regulation on core political speech.

The government’s abuses are very real, but the scandal’s lessons are not appreciated: The federal regulation of political speech has already gone further than can be justified by existing law, let alone the Constitution.

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Why Shira’s Wrong

Frisk judge playing politics

By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Elizabeth Price Foley

The recent federal court rebuke of New York City’s stop-and-frisk tactics shows that many disputes are best resolved through politics, not lawsuits.

Courts resolve discrete controversies — whether existing law has been violated. They’re not equipped to answer questions about what the law “should” be. Judicial remedies are supposed to make plaintiffs whole, not rewrite policies wholesale.

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‘Stand your ground’ should be left to states: Column

President’s call to end such laws is federal government’s attempt to impose its will.
By David Rivkin Jr. and Andrew Grossman

After George Zimmerman’s acquittal for shooting Trayvon Martin, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder urged the state of Florida to abandon its “stand your ground” law. If this were just taking advantage of a high-profile case to advance a political agenda, that would be bad enough. But the president’s and attorney general’s demands are inappropriate for a more fundamental reason: the federal government trying to impose its will on states.

The debate over where to draw the line between federal and state authority has been hard-fought from the early days of the republic. But the one area where state authority has gone unchallenged is in the power to define criminal laws. The states are better placed than the federal government to respond to local conditions and their citizens’ immediate concerns regarding public safety.

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President Obama’s suspension of the ObamaCare employer mandate

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David Rivkin appeared on the Opinion Journal Live to further discuss his previous Wall Street Journal article that explained President Obama’s suspension of the ObamaCare employer mandate.  Specifically, in the video Rivkin spoke about how this suspension will open the door to millions of Americans incurring a legal standing to sue.

To watch the video directly on the Opinion Journal, CLICK HERE >>

Why the President’s ObamaCare Maneuver May Backfire

By postponing the employer mandate, Obama has given millions of Americans the legal standing to sue.

By: David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey

President Obama’s announcement on July 2 that he is suspending the Affordable Care Act’s employer health-insurance mandate may well have exposed his actions to judicial review—even though that is clearly what he sought to avoid.

The health-care reform law’s employer mandate requires businesses with more than 50 employees to provide a congressionally prescribed set of health-insurance benefits or pay a penalty calculated at about $2,000 per employee. The law was to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, but Mr. Obama has “postponed” its application until 2015. His aim, the administration said, was to give employers more time to comply with the new rules. But it was also seen as a way to avoid paying at least part of ObamaCare’s mounting political price in the 2014 congressional elections.

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