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Kansas City Taxi Cab Permitting Rules Upheld

ST. LOUIS (CN) - It is not unconstitutional for Kansas City, Mo., to reduce the number of taxi cab permits it issues, the 8th Circuit ruled.

The Kansas City Taxicab Commission and two cab drivers sued the city, claiming the ordinance, Section 76-70, entirely excludes entrants from the taxicab market.

Passed in 2005, the law allows renewal of current taxicab permits but forbids the issuance of new permits until the number of permits drops below 500.

The law also requires new applicants to apply for a bundle of at least 10 permits at a time, meaning that new applicants must wait until the number of current permits drops to 490.

There are currently 547 existing permits, according to the ruling.

The cab drivers argued that the disparate treatment between new applicants and existing firms is not rationally related to a legitimate government interest.

A federal judge granted Kansas City summary judgment, finding no violation of the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

The 8th Circuit affirmed on Dec. 19, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's 1976 decision in City of New Orleans v. Dukes.

That ruling had said: "In the local economic sphere, it is only the invidious discrimination, the wholly arbitrary act, which cannot stand consistently with the Fourteenth Amendment.

As such, Kansas City's ordinance "is neither wholly arbitrary nor invidious," Judge Duane Benton wrote for a three-member panel. "It is rationally related to a number of legitimate government purposes. The cab drivers bear the burden of negating 'every conceivable basis which might support' the classification at issue. ... They have not met this burden."

Judges C. Arlen Beam and Bobby Shepherd concurred with Benton.

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