2017 midyear report: Your support leads to more PLF victories against an overreaching public sector
The year’s midpoint is approaching, and once again Pacific Legal Foundation can report that the confidence that you invest in us is reaping major dividends. They come in the form of powerful victories for the cause of freedom in general, and, specifically, in the “rescuing” of victims — individuals, families, and small business owners — from the suffocating grip of overreaching government.
These successes span the spectrum of PLF’s mission — our fight for property rights, economic freedom, and individual liberty. Here is a selection highlighting our accomplishments —and yours — so far:
Rescuing a family from the ravages of storms, tides — and regulators
Eric Wills and his family simply wanted to replace their aging mobile home, in a seaside community in San Clemente, with a new one of roughly the same dimensions. No problem, right? Well, it was a problem for the Wills family — because the California Coastal Commission saw their need as its opportunity. The bureaucrats saw a chance to advance their ideological campaign against allowing coastal property owners to defend their homes against the elements. At the expense of landowners’ rights — and its own legal obligations — the commission, whether explicitly or not, is supporting a destructive policy known as “managed retreat” — allowing the forces of nature to eat away at coastal property with as little resistance as possible.
Specifically, the agency has been on a crusade against seawalls, no matter how conscientiously designed. The Willses became a target of this harmful agenda. The agency conditioned their permit for a new mobile home on a demand that they must never maintain or replace the seawall that protects their property.
The Willses turned to PLF for help. Last year we won a major victory in court when the judge set aside the unjust permit condition, saying it seemed to be “overreaching” and “contrary to” Supreme Court precedent.
Now, in 2017, the Coastal Commission has responded to the court ruling by entirely abandoning its assault on the Willses’ seawall. It has approved their permit for a new mobile home, while withdrawing any demand that they forego safeguarding it from storms, winds, and waves. “It is a great relief to finally have this long struggle with the Coastal Commission over with,” said Eric Wills. “My family and I are extremely happy that the agency has finally ended its attempt to wash away our right to protect our home and our property. We are grateful for PLF’s fine work in bringing about this victory.”
Prodding West Virginia to stop roadblocking new moving companies
From the “Mountain State” comes our latest victory for the rights of entrepreneurs to earn a living, create jobs, and serve consumers without irrational, unjustified regulations.
Until PLF stepped in, West Virginia was imposing unconstitutional restrictions on entry into the moving business, by forcing entrepreneurs to prove a “need” for additional moving services before they were allowed to operate. This roadblock took the form of a “Certificate of Necessity” law — or, as we call it, a “competitor’s veto” scheme — allowing established firms to nix new competition.
We filed our constitutional lawsuit on behalf of entrepreneur Arty Vogt, whose family-owned moving company is based in Berryville, Virginia. Although he has served the mid-Atlantic region with rave reviews from customers, Arty was blocked from expanding 10 miles across the border into West Virginia — by the competitor’s veto scam.
Our lawsuit immediately drew high-profile attention, with coverage in the Washington Post and a Twitter shout-out of support from Brit Hume of Fox News. Now, West Virginia’s legislature has also taken note — responding to PLF’s litigation by repealing the anticompetitive restrictions we were challenging.
“My late wife, Stephanie, was the driving force in our effort to get our license in West Virginia,” Arty Vogt recalls. “But existing moving companies vetoed us. So I turned to PLF. I was determined to honor Stephanie’s memory by fighting in court to get this un-American law struck down. I am so grateful for PLF working with me, and prodding lawmakers to finally do the right thing. I will always consider the repeal law to be ‘Stephanie’s Bill.’ This is a victory for her, and for everyone’s right to engage in honest free enterprise.”
Stopping the feds from foisting union activists on nonunion businesses
One of the persistent goals of Obama Administration labor bureaucrats was to promote — or pressure — the introduction of unions into nonunion workplaces. Their most brazenly illegal ploy may have been the so-called “walk-around” rule. It allowed union representatives to be part of workplace inspection visits by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — even at nonunion workplaces. The aim seemed to be to facilitate union recruitment campaigns, to expand their domain and fatten their coffers.
The walk-around rule amounted to federally encouraged trespassing. It was also illegal because it had been adopted by a single bureaucrat’s fiat, rather than through the normal rulemaking process that requires extended, collaborative administrative review and public comment. Last summer, PLF highlighted these illegalities in the federal challenge we filed on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business, many of whose thousands of small-business members could be victims of the rule.
This past December, a federal judge rejected government attorneys’ attempt to have our lawsuit dismissed. Now, the Trump Administration — no doubt partly in response to our lawsuit — has rescinded the union walk-around rule altogether.
“This is a victory for the integrity of the inspection process,” said PLF Senior Attorney Joshua Thompson. “The rule hijacked safety reviews by allowing them to be used for organized labor’s membership drives. PLF was proud to join with NFIB to help end this illegal attack on the rights of nonunion businesses and their employees.”
To our donors: PLF’s victories for freedom are your victories!
You make all of our work possible — advancing freedom for every American. Please continue to be generous in providing the moral and financial support that powers PLF’s mission — so we can continue our role as America’s most powerful ally for justice.