Some Businesses Are Inherently Public, Says Washington State Supreme Court


Some bad news from the Institute for Justice, in a press release that does not yet seem to be on their website that you can read here in its entirety:

The Washington Supreme Court today dealt a blow to civil liberties. In Ventenbergs v. City of Seattle, a divided Court decided that the city of Seattle could violate local entrepreneur Joe Ventenbergs' constitutional right to earn an honest living by creating construction waste-hauling monopolies for two multi-national corporations, making it illegal for Joe to practice his profession.

"The Court got the law wrong today and Washingtonians will suffer as a result," said William Maurer, executive director for the Institute for Justice Washington Chapter (IJ-WA), which represents Joe Ventenbergs. "The Court ruled that our constitutional rights are less important than protecting two enormous, out-of-state corporations from competition. The sole good news from this decision, however, is that it is so narrow that it affects only hard-working entrepreneurs in the waste-hauling business and not other entrepreneurs throughout the state, who will be able to continue to rely on the protections of our state constitution to combat the creation of government monopolies."

In a decision released this morning, the Court stated that hauling construction waste is not a private enterprise and "is in the realm belonging to the State and delegated to local governments." The court found specifically that the provision of waste hauling service is a "government service" and constitutional protections do not apply to government-provided services.

Justice Richard Sanders, joined by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander and Justice Jim Johnson, dissented, arguing that today's decision "presents a textbook example of governmental corporate favoritism to advance the profits of the privileged few at the expense, and the extinction, of any potential competitors. It flies in the face of the state's privileges and immunities clause which was adopted to combat this exact sort of unholy alliance between government and big business, which ultimately not only disserves the excluded businesses but also the public in general."

IJ's page dedicated to the Ventenbergs case. with a timeline and many links.