Why the Supreme Court Should Review Florida's Absurd Occupational Licensing Scheme for Interior Designers


Writing in The National Law Journal, Institute for Justice attorneys Clark Neily and Paul Sherman explain why the Supreme Court should agree to hear the case of Locke v. Shore, which centers on Florida's 1994 law requiring interior designers to carry a costly state license before plying their trade. As the authors write:

Florida is one of only three states in the nation to license the practice of interior design, and the burdens Florida's law imposes on would-be designers are extraordinary, particularly in light of the fact that 47 states see no need to license them and have had no problems as a result. Acquiring an interior design license takes years and can cost tens of thousands of dollars. To be eligible for licensure, an applicant must first complete a combined six years of post-secondary education and apprenticeship under a state-licensed interior designer and pass a state-mandated exam administered by a private testing body.

Viewed through a First Amendment lens, the law is clearly unconstitutional. Virtually everything an interior designer does is speech, from consulting with clients regarding their personal goals and tastes, to drawing up space plans, to offering advice about the selection and placement of fixtures, finishes and furnishings. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that all of these kinds of activities constitute "speech" within the meaning of the First Amendment. Weighed against the immense burdens Florida's interior design law imposes on this speech is an utter dearth of evidence regarding the law's supposed benefits to the public. Indeed, attorneys for the state stipulated during the litigation they had no evidence that the unlicensed practice of interior design — which is the norm in 47 states — poses any bona fide threat to the public, or that Florida's licensing regime had benefited the public in any demonstrable way.

Read the rest here. For more on occupational licensing abuse, see here and here, and also check out Reason.tv's "Throw-Pillow Fight: Is your interior designer really putting your life at risk?"