Anticompetition laws collide with the Constitution
Munie v. Skouby
Contact: Timothy Sandefur
Status: Victory! In response to PLF’s lawsuit, the state of Missouri repealed the law on June 10, 2012.
PLF attorneys represent Missouri entrepreneur Michael E. Munie, Jr., in a constitutional challenge to a state law that unreasonably restricts entry into the moving business.
As it happens, Michael Munie, who is 43, has been in the moving business since he was 16. But after operating his company for 20 years, he was told that he was required to have a license under Section 390.061 of the Missouri Statutes. That statute provides that when a person seeks a permit to run a new moving company, the Department of Transportation shall notify existing moving companies, and permit them to intervene in the application process and object to a new application on the basis that a new company is "inconsistent with the public convenience and necessity."
After Munie filed his permit application, several existing moving companies objected that a new company would compete with them and diminish their business. So he amended his request to seek permission to operate only in St. Louis, and he received that license. He also holds a federal license allowing him to move personal property from Missouri to other states. Thus, he is only barred from moving items from St. Louis to other places in Missouri.
As with the now-repealed mover licensing statute that PLF challenged in Sweet v. Oregon Department of Transportation, the purpose of the Missouri law is not to protect public health and safety but to protect established businesses against competition by entrepreneurs. For this reason, PLF argues that the statute violates the Due Process, Equal Protection, and Privileges or Immunities Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.