Today’s News & Commentary — November 15, 2018
In a first for the federal judiciary, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has hired a director of workplace relations. The move comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement and specifically sexual harassment allegations against Judge Alex Kozinski, a prominent judge on the Ninth Circuit who was forced to resign after several former law clerks accused him of sexual misconduct. The Judicial Conference committee on Codes of Conduct is also weighing changes to the rules of judicial ethics in response to such allegations.
The Wall Street Journal warns of the Amazon “prosperity bomb” that could be coming the way of New York City and Washington D.C., pointing to the experience of Seattle, which has seen an explosion in housing prices and a spike in traffic congestion as Amazon has grown exponentially. Over the past decade, the number of Amazon employees in downtown Seattle has increased ninefold to 45,000, accounting for 8% of the total jobs in the city. The New York Times published an essay on the city’s ambivalent response to the announcement that Amazon would build a new headquarters in Queens, with politicians insisting that the company will bring prosperity to the neighborhood and local residents doubting that they will ever see a share of the riches. And the influx of workers in New York will add further stress to the city’s infrastructure, particularly its schools and mass transit systems. And the Washington Post notes that Amazon’s expansion to the Washington area could have enormous impact on its relationship with the Pentagon, allowing it to expand its business to cybersecurity.
Vox has an article out detailing Democrats’ plan to protect workers’ rights with a bill banning the use of forced arbitration by employers. The bill was introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on October 30, but did not get much attention in the lead up to the election. As Democrats take their new majority to the House in January, their legislative priorities have taken on new significance. Nadler’s bill would effectively overturn Circuit City v. Adams, a 2001 Supreme Court case that held the Federal Arbitration Act protected employers’ right to include mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts. The use of such arbitration has been blamed for an evisceration of workers’ rights, including the continued racial and sexual harassment of workers who cannot bring their claims in court.