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Institute for Justice Fights for Street Vendors Battling Restrictive Laws

Posted Sep 7, 2011 8:10 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The public interest law firm that has challenged laws on behalf of hair braiders and casket-selling monks has taken up the cause of a new group of clients: street vendors.

The Institute for Justice launched its new National Street Vending Initiative early this year, the Washington Post reports. The law firm argues that laws advancing economic protectionism violate the 14th Amendment’s due process, equal protection and privileges or immunities clauses.

The Institute has already racked up a victory on behalf of street vendors in El Paso, Texas. The group filed suit in January to challenge a law that barred vendors from operating their trucks within 1,000 feet of any established restaurant or food store. In April, the city council voted to repeal the ordinance.

The casket case could test the Institute's arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court. A federal judge has ruled on behalf of the monks, but an appeal is pending. Institute senior attorney Bert Gall tells the Post the justices could eventually hear the case because of conflicting decisions on whether economic protectionism is a legitimate government interest.

Related coverage:

New Orleans Times-Picayune: "St. Joseph Abbey's lawyers not worried by challenge to victory in casket lawsuit"

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