President's weekly report — August 15, 2014

August 15, 2014 | By ROB RIVETT

Equality Under the Law — Government discrimination in contracting

We filed this brief in Midwest Fence v. United States Department of Transportation.  Midwest Fence has been embroiled in litigation defending its right to bid for government contracts in Illinois on the same basis as everyone else.  The owner of Midwest Fence is a Caucasian male, which puts him at a competitive disadvantage because a number of his competitors are owned, at least on paper, by individuals who belong to a favored minority group.  He is losing business despite his otherwise competitive bids and quality of his work.  In a nation that values fairness and which guarantees that no state “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” this is unacceptable.  As explained in more detail in our blog, the federal mandate that requires states to implement “Disadvantaged Business Enterprise” contracting programs is creating an unacceptable bias.

Economic Liberties Project — It’s Time to White-Out State Sponsored Monopolies

Joined by the Cato Institute, we filed this amicus brief in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC.  We are objecting to the monopoly power exercised by the Board to shut down cosmetic teeth whitening businesses.  There is nothing about the superficial teeth whitening process that requires a dental degree, and, as noted in our brief,  state governments should not be immune from federal antitrust laws when they create monopolies on behalf of private cronies.  Our brief was featured in this column on Forbes’ website by George Leef.  It’s a very unusual case when we are on the government’s side, and in this case we support the Federal Trade Commission. But that’s because under current law, the only groups that cannot be prosecuted under the antitrust laws are the very state bureaucrats who are the worst offenders, and that should stop.  In case you missed them, we have a series of blog posts on the issue, starting here.

Property Rights — Flooding and Government Liability

The California Supreme Court denied review in Biron v. City of Redding, a case where the City’s storm water system caused flooding.  We had filed this amicus brief arguing that under the circumstances of this case, the government should have been held strictly liable for the damages it caused.