Colorado Supreme Court overturns Public Utilities Commission ban on new taxi licenses (denying Mile High Cab market entry)

The Colorado Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in favor of a company (Mile High Cab) earlier denied entry into the taxi market by the state’s Public Utilities Commission.

As a Denver Post article (“Mile High Cab withs [sic] Supreme Court case against public utilities“) notes:

The state’s Public Utilities Commission in July 2010 refused to grant Mile High’s request for 150 cab licenses based on the commission’s belief that the city did not need more taxis. Monday’s Supreme Court decision reverses a 2011 Denver District Court ruling that upheld the PUC’s license denial.

(Interestingly, the Public Utilities Commission shortly thereafter granted existing taxicab companies an additional 300 licenses).

The Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling overturned both an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and Denver District Court ruling upholding the PUC decision.

“The people of Denver don’t need a government agency deciding whether they have too many transportation options any more than they need a government agency deciding whether the city has too many restaurants or shoe stores,” said Robert McNamara, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represented Mile High, in a statement.

Although the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling on this case is certainly both welcome and correct, one cautions against reading too much into the outcome.

The case was (albeit correctly) decided on a fairly narrow reading of the applicable statute (although, one might argue, that is precisely what one should expect from a court of law – vs. a court of opinion or judicial activism).  (See: What makes a good judge?)

The key finding in the case:

“Whatever might be the precise limits and applicability of the doctrine of regulated competition, as well as the precise meanings of and relationships among the terms “public interest,” “public need,” and “public convenience and necessity,” there is no dispute that once an applicant for service in Denver had proved its fitness, the Commission was statutorily obligated to issue a certificate unless those opposing the application were able to prove both that the public convenience and necessity did not require its issuance and that issuance of the certificate would be detrimental to the public interest.”

A rare win for both common sense and a clear interpretation and application of the law – as written.

Clear The Bench Colorado will, with your support, continue to promote transparency and accountability in the Colorado judiciary, informing the public to increase awareness of the substantial public policy implications of an unrestrained activism and political agendas in the courts.  We will continue to work to educate voters and provide information of relevance related to the judicial branch, and to provide useful and substantive evaluations of judicial performance.

However, we can’t do it alone –  we need your continued support; via your comments (Sound Off!) and, yes, your contributions.  Freedom isn’t free –nor is it always easy to be a Citizen, not a subject.

Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *