Milwaukee opens the road (slightly) for free enterprise

February 07, 2014 | By TIMOTHY SANDEFUR

Good news from the Dairy State: the City of Milwaukee has decided to drop its appeal of a lower court decision holding the city’s regulation of taxicab permits unconstitutional.

You’ll recall that we filed a friend of the court brief in that lawsuit, which was brought by our allies at the Institute for Justice, arguing that the blanket prohibition on new taxi permits had nothing to do with protecting public health and safety, but was only designed to protect established taxi companies against fair competition. A trial court had concluded that the restriction was an irrational restriction on the rights of entrepreneurs who wanted to start new companies, and the City appealed that decision, but in the interim, it passed a new rule that would issue 100 new taxi permits. This week, it dismissed its appeal.

It’s disappointing that the City chose to keep any limit in place. Economic success ought to depend on satisfying consumers, not on convincing politicians to restrict opportunities for hard-working business owners. Still, the trial court’s decision remains in place, and the City’s decision to issue 100 new licenses is a victory for free markets.