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Kick Starting Entrepreneurship and Main Street Economic Recovery

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 09/10/2020 - 1:00pm

The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship will hold a remote hearing entitled “Kick Starting Entrepreneurship and Main Street Economic Recovery.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:00 PM (EST) on Thursday, September 10, 2020 via Cisco Webex, information to be provided separately.

The hearing will allow Members to learn more about why the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique challenge for rural economies. Further, it will examine what worked and did not work to encourage rural development and entrepreneurship during and after the Great Recession, and how these lessons can be applied to the current crisis.


To view a livestream of the hearing, please click here

Hearing Notice 

Hearing Memo 

Witnesses 

Mr. Chad Nath
Executive Director
LINK Grinnell Inc.
Grinnell, IA

Mr. Mark Rembert
Head of the Rural Innovation Network
Center on Rural Innovation
Hartland, VT

Mr. Jeremy Ketelsen
Vice President
Ketelsen RV
Hiawatha, IA

Mr. Jason Duff
Founder
Small Nation
Bellefontaine, OH

WLF Urges Supreme Court to Leave Autodialer Regulation to Congress

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 09/10/2020 - 11:23am

“Judges may not rewrite the law simply because they think some new technology simply must be regulated right away.”
—Corbin K. Barthold, WLF Senior Litigation Counsel

Click here for WLF’s brief.

(Washington, DC)—Washington Legal Foundation today filed an amicus curiae brief urging the Supreme Court to adhere to textualist principles of statutory interpretation, even when the law at issue regulates fast-moving technology. The case is Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid, No. 19-511 (U.S.).

Enacted in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act bans the use of an autodialer for making unconsented calls to cellphones. Some courts have decided that the TCPA’s definition of an autodialer requires merely that a device be able to store telephone numbers and then dial them. Those circuits have been all too quick simply to enlist the TCPA’s overall “purpose” and Congress’s general “intent” in their cause. But as the petitioner in this case, Facebook, argues, the plain words of the TCPA clearly require that an autodialer use “a random or sequential number generator.”

WLF’s brief observes that the case fits within a larger pattern of unwarrantable expansion of the TCPA. In particular, courts have expanded the TCPA to cover text messages, even though the statute plainly covers only calls. Although it might seem like a good idea for a court to try to “fix” the TCPA to keep up with the times, doing so invites Congress to put off the hard work of crafting solutions itself. Only Congress can study a matter, hold hearings, and then pass a law that draws the necessary lines between abusive junk calls (and texts) and legitimate calls (and texts). In the meantime, the courts must apply existing law as written.

Celebrating its 43rd year as America’s premier public-interest law firm and policy center, WLF advocates for free-market principles, limited government, individual liberty, and the rule of law.

The post WLF Urges Supreme Court to Leave Autodialer Regulation to Congress appeared first on Washington Legal Foundation.

Categories: Latest News

Antitrust Law Must Remain Focused on Promoting Competition and Enhancing Consumer Welfare

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 09/10/2020 - 8:50am

By Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Co-Chair of the Antitrust and Competition Law Practice at Baker Botts L.L.P. in Washington, DC, former Acting Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.

Concerns over a perceived lack of competition in some sectors have led to calls for sweeping new legislation, which would, among other things, focus on size of entities rather than the competitive impacts of transactions or market behavior, introduce restrictions on companies’ ability to adjust to market changes, and impose broad obligations to provide access to infrastructure and services to rivals. Other proposals would impose extensive new duties on antitrust enforcement agencies and introduce ongoing uncertainty in previously approved transactions.  When considering legislative changes, it is crucial to consider the purpose of antitrust law and that body of law’s long record of successfully promoting competition and enhancing consumer welfare.

Competition is a critical driver of economic growth and thus it is important to understand what current antitrust law can achieve. Although we may sometimes think of an antitrust offense in terms of anticompetitive effects, an antitrust offense is better understood in terms of the alleged conduct’s impact on the “competitive process” through which a firm makes its decisions on price, quality, and the need to innovate, among other terms.  Antitrust law is not designed for, nor intended to, correct a “problem” in the market wholly divorced from its impact on the competitive process. In other words, concerns over fairness, consumer privacy, or the protection of small business should be addressed by regulatory actions or consumer protection laws, not antitrust.1  Using antitrust law to address non-competition factors, which may diminish competition or conflict with each other, reduces certainty and increases the risk of antitrust being used for industrial policy or political purposes.  

This definition of antitrust closely aligns with the core premise of the Sherman Act, which is the belief that a market economy, free of private restraints and unnecessarily burdensome regulations, produces superior outcomes over time.  This interpretation comports with the Supreme Court’s long-espoused view.2 

Antitrust is intended to protect the market process, not ensure a particular market outcome at a particular time. Our free market system rests on the conclusion that markets in which firms must endure competitive pressures will produce favorable outcomes in terms of price, output, quality, and innovation in the long run. Enforcers should only intervene when there is evidence that firms are corrupting or are likely to corrupt the competitive process through means other than competition on the merits. We should proceed cautiously and reflect very carefully before asking enforcers to go beyond this well-established mission of antitrust.  

The Council of Economic Advisors’ recently released annual report largely echoes that sentiment. The Report, which offers a detailed examination of the state of competition and current antitrust law’s ability to promote and safeguard it, states that “major policy initiatives to completely rewrite antitrust rules . . . are premature.”3  In reaching this conclusion, the Report finds that such proposals are “likely to impose significant costs” and are based on flawed research.4

The Report analyzes several recent studies, including an influential 2016 policy brief issued by the previous administration’s Council of Economic Advisers.  It concludes that many of these studies rest on the flawed assumption that “if undesirable outcomes—such as higher prices, profits, and markups—are correlated with concentration, then the cause of these outcomes” must be weaker competition.5  That assumption fails to take into consideration other explanations that may nonetheless be consistent with “procompetitive behavior by firms.”6 

The Report concludes that though competition plays a vital role in economic growth and needs to be safeguarded, the best available evidence simply does not support the current push for antitrust reform. If the antitrust rules are to be rewritten in the future, those efforts “should be based on studies of properly defined markets, together with conceptual and empirical methods and data that are sufficient to distinguish between alternative explanations for rising concentration and markups.”7

By focusing on the competitive process, current antitrust law can still address many of the concerns raised by today’s commentators. As long as there is sufficient factual and economic evidence of a cognizable competitive harm, antitrust law can prevent and remediate price effects, reductions in quality, impacts on innovation, and so-called “killer acquisitions” of nascent competitors.

Notes

The post Antitrust Law Must Remain Focused on Promoting Competition and Enhancing Consumer Welfare appeared first on Washington Legal Foundation.

Categories: Latest News

USPTO Launches New Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 09/10/2020 - 8:49am

By Dr. Michael A. Sartori, a Partner, and Matthew Welch, an Associate, in the Washington, DC office of Baker Botts L.L.P.

On July 2, 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) enacted the Fast-Tack Appeals Pilot Program (“Program”) to expedite the appeal process.1  Under the Program, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) plans to issue a Decision within six months from the date the appeal is entered into the Program, thereby reducing the lengthy appeal process which may be benefit certain Applicants.  This article reviews the current appeal process, describes the Program, and explores the Program’s utilization.

Current Appeal Process

Under the current USPTO appeal process, an Applicant who receives an adverse patentability decision has the option of appealing to the PTAB if any claim has been rejected twice.2   The process begins when the Applicant files a Notice of Appeal.3  The Applicant then has a two-month period to file an Appeal Brief, and this period can be extended for up to five additional months.4  If the Examiner believes the application is not allowable, the Examiner responds with an Examiner’s Answer.5  To proceed with the appeal thereafter, the Applicant pays an Appeal Forwarding Fee, optionally files a Reply Brief, and optionally files a Request for Oral Hearing within two months of the date of the Examiner’s Answer.6  The PTAB next sends a Docketing Notice and eventually issues a Decision.7 

Because the Examiner’s Answer and the PTAB Decision are not subject to statutory time periods, the time for an application to traverse the appeal process fluctuates and typically takes a considerable amount of time.  In instituting the new Program, the USPTO acknowledged the lengthy appeal process, which has an average pendency at the PTAB of 15 months.8  Additionally, based on experience, the back-and-forth with the Examiner after filing the Notice of Appeal is approximately 9 to 15 months. Thus, the total time from filing a Notice of Appeal to receiving a PTAB Decision is approximately 24 to 30 months, or 2.0 to 2.5 years.  To expedite this process, the USPTO implemented the new Program.9  

New Fast-Track Appeals Program

Because of the success of prioritized examination,10  the USPTO enacted the Program to expedite review of appeals before the PTAB with the goal of rendering a decision on whether the appeal is accepted into the Program within one month and issuing a Decision within six months from when the appeal is entered into the Program.11  As a result, under the Program, the total time from filing a Notice of Appeal to receiving a PTAB Decision is reduced from approximately 24 to 30 months, or 2.0 to 2.5 years, to approximately 16 to 22 months, or 1.3 to 1.8 years.12

The Program went into effect on July 2, 2020, will remain active for a one-year probationary period, and is limited to 125 appeals per three-month quarter for a total of 500 appeals over this initial one-year period.  To qualify for the Program, the application must be an original utility, design, or plant nonprovisional application, and the appeal must be an ex parte appeal for which a Notice of Appeal has been filed and for which the USPTO has issued a PTAB Docketing Notice.  When filing an appeal under the Program, the Petition Fee of $400 is required, and the USPTO Form PTO/SB/451 should be used. 

Within one month of filing the Petition to enter the Program, the USPTO will decide whether to grant the Petition.  If granted, a Decision on the appeal will be made within six months from the grant date.  Like the normal appeal process, Applicants may seek an Oral Hearing or rely on briefing alone.  But once an Oral Hearing is scheduled under the Program, an Applicant may not reschedule and remain in the Program. 

Utilizing the Fast-Track Appeals Program

The Program may be useful in multiple ways.  For example, when an Applicant needs a patent decision quickly due to a short product life cycle, due to potentially infringing activity, or due to the need to secure funding.  By reducing the pendency of the appeal, a patent decision can be obtained sooner.

The Program may also be useful if the application is examined by an Examiner type that has a low allowance rate and a typically long and costly prosecution (a so-called “Red Examiner”).13  Being able to circumnavigate a Red Examiner under the Program may be beneficial, especially if the Applicant desires a quick patent decision.

Furthermore, using statistics, an Applicant can decide whether it is worth the extra cost to apply for the Program when appealing.  Based on research, applications assigned to a certain Examiner type (a so-called “Green Examiner”) have a better chance of success on appeal.14  Having a quick path to an appeal with the Program for such Examiners could be beneficial for an Applicant needing a patent sooner.

The Program may also be helpful to Applicants given the current economic conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Historically, in prior recessions, Applicants have reduced patent filings and abandoned more applications, and this can be attributed to the contraction of the economy and, hence, contraction of patent budgets.15  To capitalize on valuable applications pending, a quick result on an appeal may produce a valuable patent sooner, thereby saving the patent budget in a difficult economic time.

However, for certain inventions like pharmaceutical innovations, a delayed issue date may be desirable, negating the need to use the Program.  In this case, a longer appeal through the current appeal process may be acceptable and especially beneficial if coupled with the USPTO granting a positive Patent Term Adjustment due to the appeal delay, thereby increasing the patent term.16  Hence, before deciding whether to apply for the Program, an Applicant should consider how the patent is intended to be used.

In conclusion, the Program is a new strategic option that can help an Applicant shorten the appeal process, thereby achieving a patent decision sooner.

Notes

The post USPTO Launches New Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program appeared first on Washington Legal Foundation.

Categories: Latest News

Wicker Introduces Legislation to Enhance FAA Accountability

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today introduced the FAA Accountability Enhancement Act. The legislation would establish the Office of the Ombudsman and the Office of Professional Responsibility in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), rename and reorganize the Aviation Safety Whistleblower Investigation Office, and bolster misconduct investigations and discipline management to enhance accountability across the agency.

“Over a year ago, the Commerce Committee launched an investigation into FAA safety oversight,” said Wicker. “We have received disclosures from over 50 whistleblowers, conducted numerous FAA staff interviews, and reviewed over 15,000 pages of relevant documents. The FAA Accountability Enhancement Act would address several of the findings uncovered to date. This legislation would improve policy and authority within the FAA to investigate and act upon aviation safety disclosures properly and strengthen protection for whistleblowers. It is important that we pass this bill to improve the way the FAA handles safety concerns raised by its own employees.”

The FAA Accountability Enhancement Act would: 

  • Rename the “Aviation Safety Whistleblower Investigation Office,” which was implemented as the Office of Audit and Evaluation, to the “Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection” (OAWP);
  • Require the OAWP to investigate complaints that it receives or that are referred to it. It clarifies that the office receives and investigates complaints and information concerning aviation safety, whistleblower retaliation, and related misconduct;
  • Allow OAWP to make recommendations for any disciplinary action arising from any of the office’s investigations;  
  • Direct the FAA to establish an Office of the Ombudsman, headed by an Administrator-appointed Ombudsman; 
  • Direct the Office of the Ombudsman to educate employees about whistleblower rights and prohibitions on retaliation. It would serve as an independent resource for agency employees to discuss their rights and remedies for any allegations of misconduct. The office would also coordinate with Human Resources, the OAWP, the Office of Professional Responsibility, and agency General Counsel as necessary;
  • Conduct outreach and training to mitigate misconduct and promote timely and appropriate processing of protected disclosures and allegations of reprisal; 
  • Direct the FAA to establish an Office of Professional Responsibility that would receive complaints of misconduct by managers within the Agency. The office would then assess those complaints and determine whether sufficient information exists to initiate an investigation;
  • Direct the FAA Administrator to establish an investigative policy that governs misconduct investigations according to best practices to ensure independent and objective investigations;
  • Direct the Administrator to establish a discipline management policy that governs adjudication of misconduct investigations. 

Click here to read the bill. 

The Committee released a fact sheet highlighting information on improper issuance of airworthiness certificates for 88 Southwest Airlines airplanes in November, 2019. Wicker also sent a letter to FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson expressing concern about these aircraft. In January, another fact sheet was released on alleged misconduct by FAA managers at the Flight Standards District Office in Honolulu, Hawaii. An update to this fact sheet was posted on June 17. The Committee is still reviewing ongoing requested documents from the FAA and additional information received from whistleblowers. The Committee Investigation Report will be publicly released in the coming weeks.

Committee Announces Markup on September 16

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene an executive session on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at 9.45 a.m. in Russell Senate Office Building 325 to consider the following legislative measures and nominations:

Agenda:

  1. S. 804, Empowering Rural Economies Through Alaska Native Sustainable Arts and Handicrafts Act, Sponsor: Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska
  2. S. 1626, Government Spectrum Valuation Act of 2019, Sponsor: Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
  3. S. 3831, Visit America Act, Sponsors: Sens. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii
  4. S. 3969, Aircraft Safety and Certification Reform Act of 2020, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
  5. S. 4015, the Rural Connectivity Advancement Program, Sponsors: Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Jerry Moran, R-Kan.
  6. S. 4159, Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, Sponsors: Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Todd Young, R-Ind.
  7. S. 4286, Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act, Sponsors: Sens. Edward Markey, D-Mass., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
  8. S. 4462, Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support (FLOODS) Act, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Gary Peters, D-Mich.
  9. S.4472, Ensuring Network Security Act, Sponsors: Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
  10. S. XXXX, Forensic Science Research and Standards Act, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
  11. Nomination of Eric Soskin, of Virginia, to be Inspector General, Department of Transportation
  12. Nomination of  Robert Primus, of New Jersey, to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board
  13. Nominations of Theodore Rokita, of Indiana, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors
  14. Nomination of Sarah Feinberg, of West Virginia, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors
  15. Nomination of Chris Koos, of Illinois, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors

*Agenda subject to change

Executive Session Details:

September 16, 2020
9.45 a.m.
Full Committee
Russell Senate Office Building 325 

A live video of the markup and additional information will be available at www.commerce.senate.gov.

*In order to maintain physical distancing as advised by the Office of the Attending Physician, seating for credentialed press will be limited throughout the course of the hearing. Due to current limited access to the Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view this hearing via the live stream.

Transparency in Small Business Lending

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 09/09/2020 - 1:00pm

The Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing entitled “Transparency in Small Business Lending.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:00 PM (EST) on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 via Cisco Webex.

The hearing will allow Members to explore the challenges and opportunities for small businesses presented by innovations in financial technology (“Fintech”), with a focus on access to capital. Members will hear from lenders, industry advocates, and academics regarding the policy issues Congress and regulators must confront in assuring a fair but efficient small business credit market, specifically with regard to transparency in the Fintech space

To view a livestream of the hearing, please click here. 

Hearing Notice
 

Hearing Memo 

Witnesses 

Mr. Adam Levitin
Professor of Law
Georgetown University Law Center
Washington, DC 

Mr. Michael Hiles
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
10XTS
Cincinnati, OH





Upcoming Webinar—Environmental Permits in the Crucible: The Impact of Court Challenges on Energy and Infrastructure Projects

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 09/09/2020 - 12:14pm
Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 1:00 p.m. EST

Featuring:

Lindsay S. See, Solicitor General, State of West Virginia
Lawson Fite, General Counsel, American Forest Products Council
Thomas Jackson, Special Counsel, Baker Botts L.L.P.

REGISTER BELOW

The post Upcoming Webinar—Environmental Permits in the Crucible: The Impact of Court Challenges on Energy and Infrastructure Projects appeared first on Washington Legal Foundation.

Categories: Latest News

WLF: Clean Water Act Does Not Displace State and Federal Regulatory Regimes for Certain Groundwater Releases

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 09/09/2020 - 9:35am

“By refusing to expand the reach of the Clean Water Act’s general permitting provision, the district court honored Congress’s clear statutory intent.”
—Cory Andrews, WLF Vice President of Litigation

Click HERE for WLF’s brief.

(Washington, DC)—Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) yesterday asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to affirm a trial court decision that refused to expand the reach of the Clean Water Act (CWA) over certain groundwater releases. WLF’s amicus brief was prepared with the pro bono assistance of Bill Brownell, Elbert Lin, Nash Long, Brent Rosser, and Melissa Romanzo with Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP.

The case arises in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, which considered the reach of the CWA’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Adopting the “functional equivalent” test, the Supreme Court held that, if no other regulation applies, the CWA requires NPDES permits for certain discharges by “point sources” into navigable waters. Relying on that holding, the plaintiff here seeks to require an NPDES permit for the defendant’s groundwater releases of coal ash. 

But as WLF contends in its amicus brief, construing the CWA to require an NPDES permit for such releases would displace Congress’s regulation under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the EPA’s Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) Rule, both of which govern the very releases at issue here. It would also undermine comprehensive state regulation of groundwater, leading to the kind of broad expansion of NPDES jurisdiction that County of Maui rejected.

The post WLF: Clean Water Act Does Not Displace State and Federal Regulatory Regimes for Certain Groundwater Releases appeared first on Washington Legal Foundation.

Categories: Latest News

WLF Asks Supreme Court to Limit Reach of Liability Under the Alien Tort Statute

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 09/08/2020 - 10:52am

“Rather than keep playing ‘whack-a-mole’ with the lower courts, the Supreme Court should decide, once and for all, that the ATS permits no liability for aiding and abetting.”
—Cory Andrews, WLF Vice President of Litigation

Click here for WLF’s brief.

(Washington, DC)—Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision that would allow activists to impose liability on U.S. entities for aiding and abetting a third-party’s alleged human rights violations overseas. WLF’s amicus curiae brief was joined by the Allied Educational Foundation.

The plaintiffs, citizens of Mali who worked on Ivory Coast cocoa farms, allege mistreatment by cocoa farmers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the plaintiffs’ lawsuit could proceed under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), which authorizes tort claims bottomed on a violation of “the law of nations.” Citing evidence that the defendants, U.S.-based cocoa processors and chocolate manufacturers, exploited the lower prices available for cocoa harvested from Ivory Coast farms, the Ninth Circuit held that the defendants must stand trial for aiding and abetting human rights abuses.

In its brief urging reversal, WLF contends that the Ninth Circuit, by permitting such suits to proceed, disregarded both the Constitution’s and the Supreme Court’s crucial limits on a federal court’s ability to imply a new cause of action under the ATS. As WLF’s brief shows, whether the ATS should supply a remedy for aiding and abetting is a decision best left to Congress, not the Judiciary.

Celebrating its 43rd year as America’s premier public-interest law firm and policy center, WLF advocates for free-market principles, limited government, individual liberty, and the rule of law.

The post WLF Asks Supreme Court to Limit Reach of Liability Under the Alien Tort Statute appeared first on Washington Legal Foundation.

Categories: Latest News

Wicker, Graham, Blackburn Introduce Bill to Modify Section 230 and Empower Consumers Online

U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., today introduced the Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act to modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The legislation would clarify the original intent of the law and increase accountability for content moderation practices.

“For too long, social media platforms have hidden behind Section 230 protections to censor content that deviates from their beliefs,” said Wicker. “These practices should not receive special protections in our society where freedom of speech is at the core of our nation’s values. Our legislation would restore power to consumers by promoting full and fair discourse online.”

“I’m very pleased to be working with Senators Wicker and Blackburn to bring about much-needed reform of Section 230,” said Graham. “Social media companies are routinely censoring content that to many, should be considered valid political speech. This reform proposal addresses the concerns of those who feel like their political views are being unfairly suppressed.”

“Big Tech companies have stretched their liability shield past its limits, and the national discourse now suffers because of it. Today’s internet is a different online product from what was available in 1996; the polished megaplatforms we associate with online research and debate exert unprecedented influence over how Americans discover new information, and what information is available for discovery,” said Blackburn. “Moreover, the contentious nature of current conversations provides perverse incentive for these companies to manipulate the online experience in favor of the loudest voices in the room. There exists no meaningful alternative to these powerful platforms, which means there will be no accountability for the devastating effects of this ingrained ideological bias until Congress steps in and brings liability protections into the modern era.”

The Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act would:

  • Clarify when Section 230’s liability protections apply to instances where online platforms choose to restrict access to certain types of content;
  • Condition the content moderation liability shield on an objective reasonableness standard. In order to be protected from liability, a tech company may only restrict access to content on its platform where it has “an objectively reasonable belief” that the content falls within a certain, specified category;
  • Remove “otherwise objectionable” and replace it with concrete terms, including “promoting terrorism,” content that is determined to be “unlawful,” and content that promotes “self-harm.”
  • Clarify that the definition of “information content provider” includes instances in which a person or entity editorializes or affirmatively and substantively modifies the content created or developed by another person or entity but does not include mere changes to format, layout, or basic appearance of such content.

Click here to read the bill.

Pedestrian Bridge Extension Work Temporarily Closes Otay Mesa Transit Center

GSA news releases - Tue, 09/08/2020 - 12:00am
MTS operations relocate to Roll Drive and Via de la Amistad till Spring 2021 A map showing the relocation of bus stops from the Otay Mesa Transit Center to their temporary positions near Roll Drive. Image courtesy MTS. Download Full Resolution OTAY MESA, Calif. -- The U.S. General Services...

Se Cerrará Temporalmente el Centro de Tránsito de Otay Mesa por extensión del puente peatonal

GSA news releases - Tue, 09/08/2020 - 12:00am
Las operaciones de MTS serán reubicadas a Roll Drive y Via de la Amistad hasta la primavera de 2021 Un mapa que muestra la reubicación de las paradas del autobús del Centro de Transito de Otay Mesa a sus nuevo sitio de operaciones temporales cerca de Roll Drive. Autor de la foto: MTS Download...

WLF Urges Texas High Court To Apply Section 230 Internet Free-Speech Protection As Written

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 09/04/2020 - 1:24pm

“For a state high court, this is about as straightforward as it gets. The justices are being asked simply to adhere to section 230’s plain meaning, just as dozens of other courts have done.”
—Corbin K. Barthold, WLF Senior Litigation Counsel

Click here for WLF’s brief. 

(Washington, DC)—Washington Legal Foundation today filed an amicus curiae brief urging the Texas Supreme Court to faithfully apply section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. WLF’s brief was submitted pro bono by the prominent appellate attorney Scott A. Keller of Baker Botts L.L.P.

Enacted in 1996, section 230 generally protects anyone on the web from being held liable for the speech of a third party. “No provider or user of an interactive computer service,” section 230(1) states, “shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” This protection for web platforms (and all users of such platforms) is often said to have enabled the creation of the internet as we know it.

Section 230 is a straightforward immunity. It has been applied consistently across several decades and many dozens of cases. It protects free expression by ensuring that platforms are not sued out of existence because of what other people say on the internet.

WLF’s brief urges the Texas Supreme Court to apply section 230 as written in a case in which the lower courts effectively set the statute aside. The plaintiffs pointed to recent statutory amendments that allow certain federal civil claims and state criminal claims to be brought against platforms. The plaintiffs, however, bring only state civil claims that remain barred by section 230.

The case is an example of bad facts making bad law: the plaintiffs allege that they are, tragically, victims of trafficking. But as WLF’s brief explains, Congress has crafted a careful policy balance, one that contains other avenues to combat trafficking that do not curtail the vital protections that section 230 creates for platforms and their users.

WLF is grateful to Mr. Keller, his associate Jeremy Evan Maltz, and Baker Botts for their pro bono assistance with the brief.

Celebrating its 43rd year as America’s premier public-interest law firm and policy center, WLF advocates for free-market principles, limited government, individual liberty, and the rule of law. 

The post WLF Urges Texas High Court To Apply Section 230 Internet Free-Speech Protection As Written appeared first on Washington Legal Foundation.

Categories: Latest News

Upcoming Virtual Briefing—U.S. Supreme Court October Term 2020: What’s in Store for Free Enterprise?

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 11:48am
Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 1:00 p.m. EST

Featuring:

Catherine E. Stetson, Hogan Lovells 
Dr. Adam Feldman, Empirical SCOTUS
Jonathan F. Cohn, Sidley Austin LLP

Please register below

The post Upcoming Virtual Briefing—U.S. Supreme Court October Term 2020: What’s in Store for Free Enterprise? appeared first on Washington Legal Foundation.

Categories: Latest News

August 2020 Month in Review

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 09/01/2020 - 9:00am

To read more about the items below, click the link above for a PDF of the newsletter.

WLF NEW FILINGS

WLF urges the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to insist upon an exacting pleading threshold in medical device cases. (Dunn v. Genzyme)

WLF asks the Missouri Supreme Court to rein in an expansive view of personal jurisdiction that would permit far-flung plaintiffs to sue in Missouri based solely on the defendant’s third-party contacts there. (Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson)

WLF CASES DECIDED

The Seventh Circuit confirms that the FAA’s “transportation worker exemption” covers only those who directly partake in the moving of goods across borders. (Wallace v. Grubhub Holdings, Inc.)

The post August 2020 Month in Review appeared first on Washington Legal Foundation.

Categories: Latest News

GSA to Sell Federal Building in Bemidji via Online Auction

GSA news releases - Thu, 08/27/2020 - 12:00am
For Immediate Release    Contact: Cat Langel [email protected]   GSA to Sell Federal Building in Bemidji via Online Auction CHICAGO -- The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced today the start of the public sale for the Federal Building in Bemidji, Minnesota. The...

WLF Urges Mass. High Court to Clarify Pleading Threshold in Medical-Device Cases

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 08/25/2020 - 3:59pm

“State courts evaluating state-law claims involving federally approved medical devices should insist on clear and exacting pleading standards.”
—Cory Andrews, WLF Vice President of Litigation

Click here for WLF’s brief.

(Washington, DC)—Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) today asked the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to overturn a decision that would allow plaintiffs to impose burdensome and costly discovery on medical-device makers for unspecified wrongdoing.

The case arises from a lawsuit about Genzyme’s Synvisc-One®, an FDA-approved injection that supplements the knee’s own fluids to help lubricate the joint. While the plaintiff vaguely alleges that her Synvisc-One® injection was “defective” and violated unspecified “FDA regulations,” the complaint lacks factual allegations to support either of those claims. Yet Congress, in the Medical Device Amendments to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, expressly preempted all state-law claims unless they allege violation of a specific, “parallel” requirement of federal law.

As WLF’s amicus brief shows, the plaintiff’s claims are a textbook example of inadequate pleading and should be dismissed. The complaint’s allegations, even if accepted as true, fail to plausibly describe a manufacturing defect in Genzyme’s product. The complaint fails even to identify the purported defect, or to explain how it was introduced into Genzyme’s manufacturing process. And the plaintiff’s failure-to-warn claim fails to allege any facts that make plausible a deviation from the FDA-approved label, another requirement for avoiding preemption.

WLF’s brief was submitted with the pro bono assistance of David Geiger, Michael Hoven, and Stephen Stich at Foley Hoag LLP.

Celebrating its 43rd year as America’s premier public-interest law firm and policy center, WLF advocates for free-market principles, limited government, individual liberty, and the rule of law.

The post WLF Urges Mass. High Court to Clarify Pleading Threshold in Medical-Device Cases appeared first on Washington Legal Foundation.

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