Institute for Justice
Press Release

Final Victory for Milwaukee’s Cab Drivers

City Abandons Defense of Taxi Cap; More Cabs Will Be on the Road

By - Feb 5th, 2014 01:11 pm

Milwaukee, Wis.—Ten months after Milwaukee County Judge Jane Carroll ruled its taxicab cap unconstitutional, the city has finally thrown in the towel defending it.  Yesterday the city filed papers with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals dismissing its appeal of Judge Carroll’s ruling.  The drivers have been represented in the case by the Institute for Justice (IJ), the national law firm for liberty.

“This is a major victory for consumers and entrepreneurs alike,” said IJ Attorney Anthony Sanders.  “Today’s decision means that Milwaukee has finally admitted that its taxi policy for the past 20 years violates the constitutional rights of my clients and other people like them all over the city.  It should be celebrated by everyone in Milwaukee, whether they want to drive a cab or just ride in one.”

The case, Ibrahim v. City of Milwaukee, was filed in September 2011 on behalf of three Milwaukee cab drivers who could not afford the outrageous price it cost to buy an existing taxicab permit–$150,000.  Then, in April 2013, Judge Carroll ruled that the city’s cap on the number of taxicabs violated the Wisconsin Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and the drivers’ rights to earn an honest living.

Last November, while the appeal was pending, the Milwaukee Common Council adopted a new ordinance adding up to 100 cabs to the city’s streets.  When these cabs begin operating later this year, via a lottery in March, they will be a direct result of the cabbies’ victory in court.

“Neither I nor any other driver should have to win a lottery to go into business; there should be no lottery on the American Dream,” said Ghaleb Ibrahim, the lead plaintiff in IJ’s lawsuit.  “Consumers and entrepreneurs, not the city council, should decide how many cabs Milwaukee needs.”

“The city’s decision to abandon its defense of the old law just confirms what we have said all along: Protectionist caps on taxi permits are unconstitutional,” concluded Sanders.  “Hopefully other cities take this as a warning that the time to open their transportation industry to competition is now.”

The Institute for Justice has helped open taxi markets in Denver, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Minneapolis and for more than 20 years has been the nation’s leading legal advocate for the rights of entrepreneurs.  For more information on IJ’s taxicab cases, visit www.ij.org

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