The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

TANSTAAFL Appears for the First Time in a Court Opinion


From Pizza di Joey, LLC v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, decided yesterday by the high court of Maryland, in an opinion by Judge Jonathan Biran:

"There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."
– adage popularized as the acronym "TANSTAAFL" in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (1966)

I leave it to others to decide whether Heinlein would have approved of the holding, which is,

Nobody disputes that mobile vendors add value to Baltimore City. However, the City acted rationally when it balanced the competing interests of mobile vendors and brick-and-mortar restaurants and enacted the 300-foot rule to further its legitimate interest in promoting the vibrancy of its commercial districts. It follows that the Rule does not deprive mobile vendors of their substantive due process and equal protection rights under [the Maryland Constitution]. The Food Trucks affirmatively waived a vagueness challenge to the 300-foot rule, and the circuit court erred in sua sponte enjoining the City from enforcing the Rule as impermissibly vague. In any event, the 300-foot rule is not void for vagueness.

(I'm not counting here a few opinions in which a party or other business entity was called Tanstaafl: a shooting club, a stock trading company, and a summer camp; I also can't vouch for any opinions, likely state trial court opinions, that might not have made their way onto Westlaw.)