Here is the update on the case from Jacob Huebert, Associate Counsel of the Liberty Justice Center.
- Julie Crowe is an experienced vehicle-for-hire driver in the City of Bloomington, and in 2011 she decided to start her own vehicle service that would cater especially to young women who need a ride home after a night at Bloomington’s downtown bars. Julie 15-passenger van would provide an alternative to the overcrowded “party buses” that currently dominate the vehicle-for-hire market, where fights and other unsafe conduct are the norm.
- The City denied Julie a license in August 2011 when the Deputy City Manager decided that there was no “need” for additional service in Bloomington.
- The City was able to deny Julie a license because of a provision in the Bloomington City Code that allows the Deputy City Manager to deny someone a license based when she doesn’t find it “desirable” or “in the public interest.” The City added this provision to the law at the request of established vehicle-for-hire owners who wanted protection from competition.
- The City’s denial of Julie’s application was wrong for several reasons. First, the law is unconstitutional because it exists only to protect existing vehicle-for-hire companies, not to protect the public’s health, safety or welfare. Second, the law is unconstitutional because the terms “desirable” and “in the public interest” are vague and arbitrary and allow the Deputy City Manager to grant or deny a license based on her own whims rather than any objective criteria. Third, the City also violated Julie’s rights by treating her unfairly at her application hearing; among other failings, the City gave Julie no opportunity to respond to the established vehicle-for-hire company owners who opposed her application. Finally, regardless of these constitutional problems, the City had no evidence to support its decision denying Julie a license — all of the evidence showed the Julie could provide a safe, valuable service to the people of Bloomington.
- Both Julie and the City have filed motions for summary judgment asking the court to decide the case in their favor without the need for a trial. Both sides argued in support of their motions in before Judge Rebecca Foley in the McLean County Circuit Court on June 4. The judge has said that she will issue a written ruling; we do not know when that will be. The judge could rule in either side’s favor, or she could rule against both sides and decide that the case needs to be resolved at a trial.