J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · February 8, 2018

For generations, driving a cab has been an easy way to earn a living doing something you enjoy: driving. But with the rise of Uber, Lyft, and other transportation options, driving a cab has gotten harder, which is why is makes absolutely no sense for Jackson, Mississippi to impose arbitrary limits on the number of cabs that can operate in town. Capping the number of cabs in Jackson stifles competition and limits prospective cab drivers’ right to earn an honest living.

That is the issue before the Mississippi Supreme Court, which agreed to take up the case of aspiring entrepreneurs John Davis and Shad Denson in their constitutional challenge to the City of Jackson’s barriers on taxi competition.

Davis and Denson brought suit after Jackson’s government informed them that they were not allowed to own businesses because the city government did not believe any new taxi companies were needed. However, the Chancery Court of Hinds County dismissed the lawsuit because the plaintiffs did not challenge the restrictions within ten days of adoption—even though some of the restrictions are older than the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs appealed the ruling to the Mississippi Supreme Court, which has agreed to take on the case.

“Mississippi’s arbitrary ten-day restriction has cost Davis and Denson their day in court and added yet another constitutional violation to those already committed by the city by denying them a taxi permit,” said IJ Senior Attorney Justin Pearson. “However, we are confident that the Mississippi Supreme Court will correct this unjust result and allow the case to proceed.”

“I just want to start my own business and live the American dream,” said Denson. “I wish the city government would get out of the way.”

Davis and Denson’s case was originally filed in 2016 by the Mississippi Justice Institute (MJI). Since then, MJI’s director Mike Hurst was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. As a result, MJI asked the Institute for Justice, a national public interest law firm that has litigated taxi cases in Denver, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Little Rock, and elsewhere, to serve as lead counsel in the case.

“The Institute for Justice is proud to take the lead role in this worthy case and provide assistance to our friends at the Mississippi Justice Institute,” said Pearson. “Local governments should not be killing jobs. That is not only wrong. It is unconstitutional.”