Supreme Court

SCOTUS Refuses to Intervene After Federal Court Allows Special-Interest 'Economic Favoritism' to Proceed

Supreme Court rejects appeal in Sensational Smiles, LLC v. Mullen.

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Credit: OZinOH / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Today the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in a case asking whether state governments may enact "laws and regulations whose sole purpose is to shield a particular group from intrastate economic competition." By refusing to hear arguments in the case of Sensational Smiles, LLC v. Mullen, the Supreme Court left standing a lower court judgment that explicitly recognizes "economic favoritism" as a legitimate government interest.

At issue in Sensational Smiles is a regulatory scheme promulgated by the Connecticut Dental Commission that forbids non-dentists from shining low-powered LED lights into the mouths of paying customers while those customers sit in chairs and use teeth-whitening kits at places like beauty salons and mall kiosks. Violation of this rule is a felony punishable by up to five years in jail or $25,000 in fines.

Connecticut claims its regulation is necessary to protect public health and safety. But the evidence says otherwise. Bear in mind that it's perfectly legal (not mention perfectly safe) in Connecticut to use teeth-whitening kits in conjunction with low-powered LED lights in the hopes of achieving a brighter smile. It's only a crime when non-dentists charge people for assisting them in this otherwise permissible activity. What's really going on here is that the state's Dental Commission adopted a special-interest rule to protect the state's dental lobby from unwelcome economic competition.

Regrettably, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit saw nothing wrong with that. "Even if the only conceivable reason for the LED restriction was to shield licensed dentists from competition," the 2nd Circuit declared in a July 2015 decision, "economic favoritism" is a sufficient justification all by itself. "Much of what states do is to favor certain groups over others on economic grounds," the court declared. "We call this politics."

Other federal circuits have a different word for it. In 2002, for instance, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit explicitly rejected "economic protectionism" as a legitimate government interest. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled likewise in 2013.

Yet despite this clear circuit split, and despite strong evidence that Connecticut was acting in an illegitimate fashion, the Supreme Court refused to get involved. The protectionist Connecticut rule gets to remains the books while the Supreme Court remains a passive observer in the nationwide legal battle over the proper reach of government regulatory power.

NEXT: He said 'Jehovah'!

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  1. forbids non-dentists from shining low-powered LED lights into the mouths of paying customers

    Oh, FFS! Use road flares, then!

  2. whether state governments may enact “laws and regulations whose sole purpose is to shield a particular group from intrastate economic competition.

    As long as its intra-state, I don’t see a federal issue. Sorry.

    1. But the LED lights move in interstate commerce and that’s usually enough for the Feds to get involved.

    2. The intra and interstate commerce divide has already been done away with. So, as a libertarian if some federal court wants to strike down a state regulation on the same bullshit grounds progressives used to expand the federal powers in the first place, I will happily cheer that on.

    3. Since the 14th Amendment’s “Privileges and Immunities” clause was castrated in the “Slaughterhouse” cases in 1873 states have the power to restrict entry into almost any market. In that case, the state of Louisiana was allowed to establish a slaughterhouse monopoly preventing anyone else from butchering meat on a commercial basis.

  3. “Much of what states do is to favor certain groups over others on economic grounds,” the court declared. “We call this politics.”

    Which is why politicians should be ridiculed,shunned,run out of ton and as a last resort woodchippered.

    1. add a w in there, anyhere you ant.

    2. We call this politics.

      Imagining “we call this justice” engraved in the trunk of a tree from which hangs some supercilious jurist.

      1. Engraving Trunks sounds a lot like it involves chipping wood.

    3. Last resort?

      Harumph!

      Vote Woodchipper 2016

  4. “We call this politics.” Ad the circuit court to any allegorical/metaphorical woodchipper activity. What smarmy fucksticks

    1. allegorical/metaphorical woodchipper activity

      allegorical?metaphorical?

      Pusillanimous pretend friend to freedom!

      Vote Woodschipper 2016!

  5. You libtards lost the Slaughterhouse Cases. The right to earn an honest living isn’t a privilege or immunity of U.S. citizenship.

    Suck it up, or maybe I should say bend over.

    Or open up and say “aaaah.”

    Or all three.

    1. (attempting to use sarcasm here)

    2. (I’m trying out my sarcasm here)

  6. Yet another libertarian moment. Dang they’re happening so often now I might just get sick of winning…

  7. Ironic isn’t it – SCotUS jumped all over CT in Griswold and then couldn’t bend over and be more accommodating in Kelo and this?

    1. I think the word you are looking for is “incoherent”, rather than “ironic”.

  8. “Much of what states do is to favor certain groups over others on economic grounds,” the court declared. “We call this politics.”

    We call such court decisions “stupid” and their judges “nincompoops”.

    1. This is certainly the money quote.

      In my view, constitutional limitations on government power exist precisely for this purpose. When politics becomes a means for bending the might of the state toward a criminal protection racket, it is the function of the constitution and the courts to reject this behavior and protect its citizens. Abdicating this responsibility in the name of “judicial deference” delegitimizes the government and lays bare the veneer that covers the organized crime aspect of government power.

    2. “Much of what states do is to favor certain groups over others on economic grounds,” the court declared. “We call this politics.”

      This would be a great election tool to unseat these aholes.

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  13. its starting to look like the supreme court has become useless. If they won’t make judgements then why pay them.

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  16. RE: SCOTUS Refuses to Intervene After Federal Court Allows Special-Interest ‘Economic

    Please ask me again why he SCOTUS should be disbanded.

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