President's weekly report — February 6, 2014

February 06, 2014 | By ROB RIVETT

Economic Liberty — Movin’ on up in Kentucky

We had this great federal district court victory this week in Bruner v. Zawacki.  This was our challenge to Kentucky’s anticonsumer and anticompetitive law that gave existing moving companies a veto over new competitors.  As explained in our blog, rather than protecting the public against fraud, risk, or injury, the only result this law was to give protection from the free market to existing moving companies — companies that successfully blocked any new competitors from entering the market.  (Although one existing company offered to sell its license to a new mover for $25,000!)  This ruling does not remove regulatory oversight of the industry.  All health, safety, and insurance regulations remain in place — but now anyone with the guts, skill, and wherewithal to start a new moving business at least has a fighting chance to do so.


Environment — Harvest wheat & go to prison: Evading Congressional protection for “normal farming.”

We’ll be heading into federal district court here in Sacramento this Monday to argue in Duarte Nurseries v. United States Corps of Engineers that farmers are entitled to a hearing before being shut down for alleged wetlands violations.  As described here, and in our newest blog on the case,  this case involves a winter wheat farmer who received a “cease and desist” letter from the Corps telling him that he is farming in a wetlands and that he must stop.  While Duarte has stopped,

he is still trying to get a hearing, where he could argue that the “normal farming” exemption in the Clean Water Act allows him to farm.   The Corps, however, says that he must go through the time and trouble of applying for an after-the-fact permit, which he can get only after he restores the property (how he can restore a farm to a farm remains to be seen), and then after spending months or years and what could be a couple-hundred thousand dollars for a permit, and then–and only then–may he challenge the notion that he needs a permit in the first place.  And the government, acting with a Sackett-never-happened chutzpah, is arguing in its briefs that the “cease and desist” letter really didn’t really force Duarte to stop farming.  In case you are wondering, the letter said: “You are hereby directed to cease and desist all work in waters of the United States until this violation is resolved,” and then helpfully included reference to all the fines and penalties, including imprisonment, that might apply if Duarte didn’t stop farming.  We’ll see what the court thinks about this on Monday.

Economic Liberty — Taxicab licenses

In Ibrahim v. City of Milwaukee, the City decided to drop its appeal of a lower court decision holding the city’s regulation of taxicab permits unconstitutional.  This is the case, as explained in our blog, brought by our friends at the Institute for Justice alleging that the limits on taxicab licenses violated the rights of people who wanted to obtain new licenses.  We had filed this friend of the court brief in support of the right of citizens to enter the taxi business.  One-hundred more licenses will now be issued.  So while it’s not a truly free market, at least there will be a bit more consumer choice than before.

Obamcare – Hobby Lobby

Don’t forget to listen to our podcast here on the filing of our amicus brief in the Hobby Lobby challenge to the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.