“The new law allows adults over 21 to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants. The measure creates a Division of Cannabis Control, which is responsible for setting up and regulating the adult-use cannabis market.”
“Today’s legal immigration system is drastically different than what it was historically. Post-independence, the U.S. took a broadly liberal approach to welcoming newcomers. “Even when it finally adopted some rules in the late 19th century, immigrants were presumed eligible for permanent residence unless the government showed that they fell into specific and usually narrow ineligible categories,” writes Bier.
Now, would-be migrants have to prove their eligibility based on strict prerequisites that vanishingly few can fulfill. That shift hasn’t reduced demand for migration pathways—it’s just created a black market, much like other forms of prohibition. Rather than looking to a sensible, straightforward, and sanctioned visa application process, migrants of many stripes look to smugglers and illegal entry to reach American soil. This has made their journeys far more dangerous (and, in many cases, deadly).”
“Overall, liberalizing prostitution laws was linked to a significant decrease in rape rates, while prohibition was linked to a significant increase—but the magnitude of these two shifts was far from equal. Rather, “the magnitude of prohibiting commercial sex is about four times as large as that of liberalizing it,” write Gao and Petrova.
The average rape rate in the sample countries was nine rapes per 100,000 people. Countries that liberalized prostitution laws saw a decrease of approximately three rapes per 100,000 people, relative to countries that did not change their prostitution laws. Meanwhile, countries that banned or further criminalized prostitution saw an increase of around 11 rapes per 100,000 people, relative to the control countries.”
“Gao and Petrova do offer the caveat that “changes in prostitution laws might not be random. It is possible that a country changes the laws as part of a general program to improve women’s social status and is thus instituting other policies that may affect rape rates,” and although they attempted to control for this in various ways, these techniques “may not fully address the possible nonrandomness of prostitution laws.””
“their findings are in line with a spate of previous research linking liberalized sex work laws to decreases in sexual violence. For instance, a 2018 study showed that rapes in Rhode Island decreased when the state temporarily decriminalized indoor prostitution. A 2017 study found fewer sexual assaults after legal street prostitution zones were opened in 25 Dutch cities. Another 2017 study linked the launch of Craigslist “erotic services” ads in various U.S. cities to decreases in female homicide rates.”
“There is nothing inherently illegal about paying someone not to disclose a purported affair. But Trump is being accused of illegally plotting to falsify business records in an effort to hide the payment. Under New York law, that crime on its own is a misdemeanor, but it can be bumped up to a felony charge punishable by up to four years in prison if records were falsified with the specific intent to commit or cover up another crime. The indictment released Tuesday doesn’t specify what that second crime may be, but there are indications that Bragg may attempt to connect the payments to campaign finance violations or tax fraud.”
“there’s generally broad agreement that Bragg appears to have ample evidence to secure conviction on the misdemeanor counts of falsifying business records. There’s serious disagreement, however, on the most important issue: Will Bragg be able to successfully tie those minor violations to a secondary crime?
Skeptics from both sides of the political spectrum say the felony portion of the case is built on shaky and untested legal reasoning that will require ironclad evidence to prove — evidence many believe Bragg likely doesn’t have. There are also major technical issues that could derail the indictment, most notably the untested question of whether a federal crime like a campaign finance violation can count as a secondary crime under New York’s state-level business records law. Some doubters add that the strength of Bragg’s case is irrelevant if the trial isn’t completed in time for the 2024 election, a prospect they say is extremely unlikely.
But others argue that the case isn’t nearly as weak as skeptics make it out to be. They say Bragg and his team, who have jurisdiction over the beating heart of the U.S. financial system, are incredibly adept at litigating complex financial issues such as this one. The lack of details about how Bragg plans to connect critical dots in the case, they add, is a sign that the district attorney is merely saving his most potent ammunition for later, not that he doesn’t have it.
Finally, some legal commentators say the indictment is so short on details and the circumstances so unprecedented that it’s impossible at this early stage to make any real judgments about how the case might play out.”
“Two big legal questions are germane to the stunt: one relating to how migrants were induced to board flights and the other relating to using state funds. Legal experts, lawmakers, and the architects of the flights are now debating what was and wasn’t legally permissible about the scheme.
DeSantis, for his part, has said the migrant flights were “clearly voluntary.” Taryn Fenske, a spokesperson for DeSantis, shared with Axios a redacted consent form for the flight. That form mentions a “final destination of Massachusetts” and holds “the benefactor or its designated representatives harmless of all liability” incurred during the journey, which it says is meant to transport the signatory “to locations in sanctuary States.”
Though much of the form is translated into Spanish, the mention of Massachusetts as the final destination is not. The only mention of Massachusetts in the Spanish portion of the redacted document is a handwritten abbreviation: “MA.”
Three of the migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard filed a lawsuit against DeSantis..alleging that Florida officials “made false promises and false representations” that if they “were willing to board airplanes to other states, they would receive employment, housing, educational opportunities, and other like assistance upon their arrival.” The lawsuit notes that a woman “gathered several dozen people…to sign a document in order to receive a $10 McDonald’s gift card.” Per the suit, the woman didn’t explain what the consent form said. Migrants interviewed by NPR also explained that the same woman promised they would be flown to Boston and receive expedited work papers if they boarded the flights in San Antonio.
With this background in mind, some commentators have suggested the flight scheme may have run afoul of Texas law. Under title 5, chapter 20 of the Texas penal code, the crime of “unlawful restraint,” or restricting someone’s movement without consent, includes actions that involve “force, intimidation, or deception.” An unlawful restraint offense is a misdemeanor, except when the victim is under 17 years old—then it’s a state jail felony. At least some of the migrants DeSantis sent to Martha’s Vineyard were children.
Legal experts surveyed by Politico suggested that federal criminal trafficking statutes weren’t relevant unless migrants were transported against their will. If coercion was involved, the legality becomes much murkier. “If someone is told, ‘Hey, get on the bus. We’re going to Chicago because we have a job for you’ and it’s not true, that person has been victimized,” said Steven Block, a Chicago lawyer and former assistant U.S. attorney who dealt with trafficking and corruption cases.
The matter of state funds is at least slightly easier to distill. Florida’s 2021–2022 budget set aside $12,000,000 to implement “a program to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state consistent with federal law.” Funds that weren’t spent in 2021–2022 rolled over to be used for the same purpose in 2022–2023. This is the pot through which DeSantis financed the Martha’s Vineyard flights, and the governor says he’ll spend “every penny” of it to “make sure that we’re protecting the people of the state of Florida.”
The 2022–2023 spending bill explicitly provides money for transporting migrants “from this state.” That would seem to indicate an origin in Florida. But the Martha’s Vineyard flights originated in San Antonio, which DeSantis acknowledges. Florida Democrats are now questioning whether this rendered the flights illegal. They are attempting to block funding for the relocation effort. A potential sticking point is that the flights were routed through Crestview, Florida, before reaching Martha’s Vineyard, ostensibly to refuel.
Geography aside, the migrants’ immigration status may also clash with the Florida budget language. State Sen. Aaron Bean (R–Jacksonville) stated in March that the relocation scheme wouldn’t apply to people who had requested asylum in the U.S. after fleeing communist or socialist countries since “they are here lawfully.” Further, the 2022–2023 budget specifies that the relocation scheme only applies to people who are “unlawfully present” in the country.
After crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, the migrants now suing DeSantis—all recent immigrants from Venezuela—turned themselves over to federal immigration officials, the lawsuit explains. Each has “active federal proceedings to adjudicate their immigration status,” which authorizes them to stay in the United States unless their immigration court proceedings determine otherwise.”
“Noting that “the Constitution makes no reference to abortion,” Alito argues that “no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely—the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Although “that provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution,” he says, “any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.'” Alito concludes that “the right to an abortion does not fall within this category.”
That analysis falls short in at least two crucial ways.
First, Alito fails to grapple with the argument that the right to terminate a pregnancy can be understood as a subset of the right to bodily integrity. As the legal scholar Sheldon Gelman detailed in a 1994 Minnesota Law Review article, the right to bodily integrity can be traced back to the Magna Carta. That makes it one of the many rights “retained by the people” (in the words of the Ninth Amendment) that were imported into the Constitution from English law. That right, in other words, is “deeply rooted” in American history and tradition.
Second, Alito’s draft opinion distorts the relevant legal history and thus misstates the historical pedigree of abortion rights. “When the United States was founded and for many subsequent decades, Americans relied on the English common law,” explains an amicus brief that the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians filed in Dobbs. “The common law did not regulate abortion in early pregnancy. Indeed, the common law did not even recognize abortion as occurring at that stage. That is because the common law did not legally acknowledge a fetus as existing separately from a pregnant woman until the woman felt fetal movement, called ‘quickening,’ which could occur as late as the 25th week of pregnancy.”
A survey of founding-era legal authorities confirms this view. William Blackstone’s widely read Commentaries on the Laws of England, first published in 1765, noted that life “begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb.” Under the common law, Blackstone explained, legal penalties for abortion applied only “if a woman is quick with child, and by a potion, or otherwise, killeth it in her womb.” That means abortion was legal in the early stages of pregnancy under the common law.
Blackstone’s writings had an important influence on America’s founding generation. In his 1790 Of the Natural Rights of Individuals, for example, James Wilson, a driving force at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and a leading voice for ratification at Pennsylvania’s convention, repeated Blackstone’s gloss. “In the contemplation of law,” Wilson wrote, “life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb.”
At the time of the founding, no American state had the lawful power to prohibit abortion before quickening because the states adhered to the common law as described by Blackstone and Wilson. We might call this the original understanding of the states’ regulatory powers. That original understanding contradicts Alito’s assertion that abortion rights—at least during the early stages of pregnancy—lack deep roots in American history.”
“When Californians voted to legalize recreational marijuana cultivation and sales back in 2016, the industry ended up saddled with state and local taxes that make it inordinately costly to attempt to sell or buy cannabis legally. As a result, the black market for marijuana still dominates sales in a state where it’s legal to buy it. Industry analysts estimate about $8 billion in black market marijuana sales annually in California—double the amount of marijuana purchased through licensed dispensaries.
The cultivation tax has been consistently eyed by industry analysts as a problem. This particular tax is unique among agricultural products in California, and due to the legislation passed in 2017 to establish tax authorities, it’s regularly adjusted for inflation. As a result, cultivation tax rates actually increased at the start of 2022 despite this big black market problem.
The high cost of attempting to cultivate marijuana has both given cannabis farmers second thoughts and has fostered a whole new drug war as state and local law enforcement officers raid illegal grow operations out in the rural and uninhabited parts of the state. Legislators even passed a new law adding more potential criminal penalties for those arrested for “aiding and abetting” any unlicensed dealers.”
“It’s good news that Newsom is proposing eliminating the cultivation tax. He may be doing it in the hopes that the state will make more money, but California residents will also benefit from cheaper legal options. And if this makes it easier for people to grow cannabis legally, there will hopefully be fewer raids and enforcement operations in the future.”