by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
On Tuesday the Institute for Justice announced that:
The U.S. Supreme Court today vacated a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judgment that had allowed the city of Norfolk, Va. to suppress a banner protesting the government’s illegal attempt to seize private property by eminent domain….
"This is a twin victory for free speech and property rights," said Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice (IJ), which represents Central Radio Company, the small Norfolk business that placed the protest banner on the side of its building when the government tried to seize it. "Citizens must be free to speak out in protest when the government violates their property rights."
Upon hearing today’s news, Bob Wilson, one of Central Radio’s owners, exclaimed, "I am ecstatic! My local government violated my constitutional rights, but today, the U.S. Supreme Court restored those rights, and it restored my faith in our nation’s justice system."
Economic Rights Gain Ground in Texas
Last Friday, the Institute for Justice announced another victory after the Texas Supreme Court ruled for the plaintiffs in Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation:
The case began in 2008, when TDLR suddenly decided that eyebrow threading–a traditional South Asian practice that uses only cotton thread to remove eyebrow hair–required the same license that conventional cosmetologists need for techniques like waxing, makeup and chemical peels. TDLR issued $2,000 penalties to threaders across the state and ordered them to quit their jobs until they completed coursework in private beauty schools costing between $7,000 and $22,000. None of this coursework is required to address eyebrow threading and the state’s cosmetology examinations do not require any knowledge of threading.
"Today’s decision is crystal clear: The government can’t make you do useless things to keep your job," said lead attorney Wesley Hottot of the Institute for Justice. "The Texas Constitution protects everyone’s right to pursue the occupation of their choice without unreasonable government interference. State officials can’t just meddle with people’s ability to go to work and support their families. Regulations must have reasons."
"I am overjoyed," said Ash Patel, a plaintiff in the case and the owner of an eyebrow threading business that was forced to close its doors…. "All I ever wanted was a fair chance to pursue my American Dream,…and now I can."
Speaking of Licensing Laws
I’ve written before about how the NC State Bar has been trying to keep LegalZoom’s online legal services out of North Carolina. Now, LegalZoom has gone on the offensive by filing a complaint against the Bar. As the Wall Street Journal reports:
In the latest development, the discount legal services company filed an antitrust lawsuit against the bar, accusing the state agency of "unlawful monopolization" in violation of the Sherman Act, the primary U.S. antitrust statute. LegalZoom seeks more than $10.5 million in damages….
"LegalZoom has been compelled to file this lawsuit because the Defendants are illegally and unreasonably restraining trade in the market for legal services," says the complaint, which was filed…in federal court in North Carolina.
Along with the State Bar, the lawsuit names the Bar’s President, Councilor, and two deputy counsels as defendants, and it lists all 23 members of the Authorized Practice Advisory Committee as co-conspirators who are jointly and severally liable for the damages.
Click here for the Legal Update archive.
You can unsubscribe to this and all future e-mails from the John Locke Foundation by clicking the "Manage Subscriptions" button at the top of this newsletter.