In December, IJ scored a major victory when an Arkansas judge struck down Little Rock’s government-created taxi monopoly as unconstitutional. We represented Ken Leininger, who wanted to start a new taxi business after spending years driving for the city’s sole taxi company. But the city banned new companies from competing with the one taxi business in town. That is when IJ stepped in and sued Little Rock to help Ken achieve his dream.
The ruling is an important victory for transportation freedom and economic liberty. The Pulaski County Circuit Court determined that both barriers challenged by our lawsuit—the public convenience and necessity requirement and the requirement of no impact on the monopoly company—were unconstitutional.
This alone would have been a huge accomplishment, but what makes the win even more effective is the way we achieved it. We won by reviving two separate, mostly dormant constitutional doctrines, while simultaneously combining them in a unique manner to create a new tool for liberty. In other words, we won by using cutting-edge constitutional theories to achieve real-world results.
First up was the Arkansas Constitution’s anti-monopoly clause. The last time a plaintiff won by asserting this clause was over a half century ago. People had forgotten about it, but through a combination of exhaustive research and creative, entrepreneurial strategizing, IJ became confident that this clause could once again become an important tool for freedom.
Our second path to victory involved a rarely used legal tactic called a “judgment on the pleadings.” This means asking the judge to make a decision without having to spend months collecting evidence. Such motions are rarely granted, but that did not stop us from pursuing this bold approach.
Our innovative and cutting-edge gameplan paid off. The result is a court ruling that not only says the protectionist barriers we challenged are unconstitutional, but also finds that these types of barriers must always be deemed unconstitutional if a city has given all of its permits to one company. The government’s supposed justifications for these barriers do not matter, nor do any other facts or evidence. By giving all permits to one company, the city violated the Arkansas Constitution’s anti-monopoly clause.
It remains to be seen whether the city will appeal. However, if this ruling is allowed to stand, then we will have managed to revive, and in many ways will have created, another valuable tool for liberty. And we will have succeeded because of hard work, creativity and a team effort spanning many years. After all, that is the IJ Way.
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