Taxi Drivers to Remain Free in Milwaukee

The cloud of uncertainty that haunted taxi drivers in the city of Milwaukee disappeared yesterday when Judge Lynn Adelman dismissed a lawsuit which would have undermined recent taxi reforms in the city. This was the Institute for Justice (IJ)’s second successful taxi case in the city.

The lawsuit was filed by a group of taxi conglomerates seeking to recoup tens of millions of dollars in supposed damages from the city after it lifted an unconstitutional and protectionist cap on taxi permits. Barring an appeal, the court’s dismissal puts an end to the cab companies’ last-ditch attempt to deny taxi drivers their right to earn a living.

The reforms that lifted the cap were passed in response to a previous lawsuit by IJ which successfully challenged the constitutionality of the caps. In April 2013, Judge Jane Carroll struck down the law that outlawed competition in the city’s taxi market. Then, in July 2014, the Common Council voted unanimously to completely lift the cap on the number of taxicabs allowed to operate in the city.

In the face of such unified support for free markets, the old taxi cartel sued the city over the repeal rather than compete fairly. Not satisfied with wanting the cap restored, the taxi cartel also sought to ban Uber and other rideshare services from operating in the city.

Yesterday’s decision vindicates the efforts of both IJ and the entrepreneurial cab drivers who intervened in lawsuit. Despite all their efforts, the protectionist cab companies cannot stop the free market from operating. Absent an appeal, taxi drivers in Milwaukee can finally enjoy the freedom to operate their businesses.

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