Attorneys for the city of Little Rock recently decided against appealing a recent Pulaski County Circuit court decision — the case that held the city’s taxi permitting process as unconstitutional.
Tom Carpenter, Little Rock’s city attorney, had told us in December that the city would challenge the decision.
Here’s the back story: Ken Leininger, founder of Ken’s Cab and represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ), sued the city of Little Rock last March over an ordinance that prohibited any new cab companies from competing with the city’s chosen company, Greater Little Rock Taxi Service, LLC (“Yellow Cab”).
The ordinance allows new taxi permits to be issued only if “public convenience and necessity” leave no other choice, and if doing so will not harm the existing permit holder. This ordinance created a monopoly that barred entrepreneurs like Leininger from competing with Yellow Cab. Under the state constitution, monopolies “are contrary to the genius of a republic, and shall not be allowed.”
Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge David Laser ruled in December that the ordinance violated the anti-monopolistic prohibition contained in Article 2, Section 19, of the Arkansas Constitution.
Justin Pearson, an IJ Senior Attorney who represented Leininger, said today in a statement:
Ken is pursuing his American Dream, and simply wanted the chance to compete. He should have been applauded—not blocked by government officials who were more interested in protecting the only taxi company in town than putting more taxis on the street. Now, Little Rock is finally getting out of Ken’s way, which means he, and transportation entrepreneurs like him, will be free to expand his business and create more jobs.
Leininger is currently in the process of expanding his company, now that he’s legally allowed to operate within the city limits of Little Rock.
I started this fight in 2015, when I tried to apply for taxi permits and was turned down by the city. But instead of backing down, I joined with the Institute for Justice to take the taxi monopoly head-on. I was thrilled when we won in December, and I am thrilled that the city will not appeal the decision. I have already started the plans to expand Ken’s Cabs and look forward to opening the new office soon.
Little Rock’s case against Leininger was always a suspect one, so it’s not surprising that the city finally gave up trying to keep this unconstitutional ordinance on the books. Leininger has been in this fight for about two years now, and it’s nice to see that he’s emerged victorious with the help of those liberty-loving lawyers at IJ. Congratulations to Leininger, congratulations to IJ, and even congratulations to Little Rock — for realizing that the better part of valor is discretion.