Back in March, writing about  the US Supreme Court’s decision in NC State Bd. of Dental Examiners v. FTC. I said:

The Court’s decision had the effect of upholding the FTC’s original charge against the Board, so it will no longer be able to maintain a monopoly on teeth whitening in North Carolina. That makes it clearly a good result for non-dentist teeth whiteners and their customers.

But, I emphasized that:

The Court’s holding is very narrow. It may be a step in the right direction, but it’s a short step, and it does not take us very far towards a legal system that fully protects economic rights.

A recent decision by the Supreme Court of Alabama illustrates just how far we still have to go. On June 5th the Institute for Justice announced that:

Today, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld a 2011 law that gives licensed dentists a lucrative monopoly on teeth-whitening services and prohibits teeth-whitening entrepreneurs from operating in the state. The ruling means customers will pay higher prices for fewer choices because only licensed dentists can offer teeth-whitening.

“Today’s ruling doesn’t protect public safety; it protects licensed dentists from honest competition,” explained IJ Senior Attorney Paul Sherman, who was lead counsel on the case. “Literally millions of people have safely whitened their teeth at home using products bought online or in stores that are identical to those sold by our clients. The Alabama Supreme Court has allowed dentists to regulate their competitors out of existence for no good reason.”

The IJ’s clients in the Alabama case included one from North Carolina who had benefitted from the US Supreme Court’s decision in the earlier case:

For IJ client Keith Westphal, who operates a successful teeth-whitening business in North Carolina, … today’s ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court is a setback.
“I was eager to expand my business into Alabama, to offer new services and help create new jobs,” said Westphal. “It makes no sense that the government would prevent me from doing that, especially in light of the recent US Supreme Court ruling. Today’s decision isn’t just bad for me; it’s bad for consumers and job-seekers in the state of Alabama.”