Beauty Is in the Eye of the Regulator


Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit hears a challenge to Louisiana's florist licensing system, which demands a one-hour written test and a grueling practical exam, graded with complete objectivity by licensed florists who pass judgment on whether their would-be competitors have what it takes to stick flowers in vases. The system, of course, is aimed not at protecting florists from competition but at protecting consumers from buying god-awful arrangements that they in their naivete think are rather nice. The florists challenging the system, represented by the Institute for Justice (who else?), argue that it violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection and Due Process clauses, claims that a federal judge rejected last year. Check out I.J.'s map of "States That License Florists."