The Constitutionality of Useless Regulation
By Bryan Caplan
May the government force entrepreneurs to do useless things, like build
extra rooms in their stores that they do not need and will never use,
just to prove they are serious about their business?
is at the center of a major lawsuit filed today, January 19, 2012, in
Minnesota State District Court by the Institute for Justice (IJ) on
behalf of Verlin Stoll, the 27-year-old owner of Crescent Tide Funeral
Home in Saint Paul.
Verlin has built a successful business by
offering low-cost funerals while providing high-quality service. […] Minnesota refuses to let Verlin build a second funeral home unless
he builds a $30,000 embalming room that he will never use.
law is irrational,” said Katelynn McBride, an IJ-MN attorney.
“Embalming is never required just because someone passes away and the
state does not require funeral homes to do their own embalming. In
fact, it is perfectly legal to outsource embalming to a third-party
embalmer. Minnesota’s largest funeral chain has 17 locations with 17
embalming rooms, but actually uses only one of those rooms.”
Why are useless regulations on the books? Rent-seeking:
Minnesota is forcing Verlin to waste $30,000 to protect
the big, full-amenity funeral-home businesses from competition.
Verlin’s basic services fee is only $250, which is about 90 percent
lower than the $2,500 charged on average by many Twin Cities’ funeral
“The Minnesota Constitution
protects the right to earn an honest living and this law violates that
right by forcing entrepreneurs to do something time-consuming, expensive
and completely unnecessary,” said IJ Senior Attorney Jeff Rowes. “A
victory here will not only free Verlin from an unconstitutional
restraint on his economic liberty, but protect entrepreneurs across the
state from pointless laws and bureaucracy.”
Will they win?