In a story that broke on Tuesday, the legal standard known as “arbitrary and capricious” was used to describe the nanny impulses of New York’s Mayor in his recent campaign to protect New Yorker’s from their own inclinations, by banning large sodas.
Arbitrary and Capricious is one of those legal terms like “nicety” that is probably largely unknown, save in legal circles.
Arbitrary and Capricious means doing something according to one’s will or caprice and therefore conveying a notion of a tendency to abuse the possession of power.
Apparently this usually comes to play when a judge makes a ruling that someone disputes on the basis that it is irrational, not based on facts, not soundly adjudicated, and/or made for reasons only understood by the judge.
In this particular case, New York State Judge Milton Tingling ruled that the Mayor of New York and the Board of Health had far overstepped their bounds of authority.
The rule would not only violate the separation of powers doctrine, it would eviscerate it. Such an evisceration has the potential to be more troubling than sugar sweetened drinks.
It is arbitrary and capricious because it applies to some but not all food establishments in the city, it excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories on suspect grounds, and the loopholes inherent in the rule, including but not limited to no limitations on refills, defeat and/or serve to gut the purpose of the rule.
In other words, it’s just plain ludicrous and devoid of rationality. Here are some other adjectives:
absolute, authoritative, baseless, dictatorial, dogmatic, fanciful, groundless, impetuous, motiveless, purposeless, unduly, whimsical, willful
All of these seem to accurately sum up not only Mayor Bloomberg’s crusade against fat people, but the so-called progressive agenda in general.
Personally, I don’t drink soda, but somehow manage to carry around a few more pounds than is good for me. I eat more than my body requires. But that’s my business. Choices have consequences – it’s not the government’s job to make sure that all my choices meet with the approval of a “public servant.” He may have been elected mayor, but he wasn’t elected God.
Arbitrary and Capricious: “A willful and unreasonable action without consideration or in disregard of facts or law or without determining principle.” -Black’s Law Dictionary
But never fear, Bloomberg is here to save the estimated (who’s estimate?) 5,000 New Yorkers who die every year because they are too fat. His office wasted no time in announcing via twitter,
We plan to appeal the sugary drinks decision as soon as possible, and we are confident the measure will ultimately be upheld.
We believe @nycHealthy has the legal authority and responsibility to tackle causes of the obesity epidemic, which kills 5,000 NYers a year.
Gosh, what was this judge thinking! How dare he stand in the way of this selfless billionaire mayor and the Department of Health!
For lots of New Yorkers that are unaccustomed to that Tingling you’re feeling right now- it’s called Freedom. The good guys have won this round, anyway. (Apologies to the judge for associating him, even in passing, with an idiot pundit.)