St. Louis, MO.; April 26, 2012 — Tomorrow morning (April 27), PLF Principal Attorney Timothy Sandefur will present arguments in federal court challenging the constitutionality of a Missouri law that requires an entrepreneur to essentially get permission from his or her own competition before starting a moving company. Representing St. Louis businessman Michael Munie, Sandefur will argue that the statute violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections for the right to earn a living without unreasonable government interference.
|What:||Court hearing in Munie v. Skouby, a constitutional challenge to Missouri’s licensing law for moving companies.|
|When:||Friday, April 27 at 9 a.m. CDT.|
|Where:||U.S. District Courthouse, Courtroom Room 12S
111 South 10th Street, St. Louis, Mo. 63102
|Who:||Timothy Sandefur, a Principal Attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation, represents St. Louis entrepreneur Michael Munie and his company, ABC Quality Moving.|
Mr. Sandefur will be available for media interviews after the court hearing.
“This law allows existing companies an unfair and unconstitutional power to essentially block their own competition from going into business,” said Sandefur, who oversees PLF’s Economic Liberty Project. “Whenever a person applies for a license to operate a new company, existing firms are allowed to object and force the applicant to go through a hearing to prove that a new moving company is ‘necessary,’” Sandefur explained. “How do you prove that? Nobody knows. The statute is so vague that it’s impossible to tell.”
Michael Munie has operated ABC Quality Moving for more than 20 years. But while he has a federal license to operate across state lines, and a state license allowing him to operate within St. Louis, he cannot get permission to operate in the rest of Missouri unless he submits to the licensing procedure again.
“Since 2005, every applicant who has sought permission to operate statewide has experienced an objection,” said Sandefur. “And almost all of them have withdrawn their applications, because going through a hearing is so expensive and time-consuming.”
Worse still, Sandefur argues, the hearing procedure is so vague and unpredictable that it is fundamentally unfair. “Only two people that we know of have ever gone all the way through a hearing,” he said. “Of those, one was denied a license even though the government acknowledged he was fully qualified, simply because he would compete with existing companies. And another was granted a license because the government said competition was a good thing. Two completely opposite decisions. There are no rules, no standards—the entire procedure exists simply to prevent legitimate competition.”
Last year, in response to Munie’s lawsuit, Missouri legislators passed legislation to repeal the licensing law, but that bill was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon.
“Laws like this restrict economic opportunity, harm wealth-creating businesses, and stifle job creation and innovation,” Sandefur said. “And at a time when the nation’s economy is stumbling along? Nothing could be more senseless.”
About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation (www.pacificlegal.org) is the nation’s leading legal watchdog organization that litigates, nationwide, for limited government, property rights, free enterprise, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations.
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