WOODLAND, CALIF. (CN) – High copper prices have led to an epidemic of metal thefts across the nation. In response, the City of Woodland enacted an unconstitutional law that prohibits scrap metal dealers from buying stuff with cash, forces them to hold property for 5 days before selling it, and forces them to “comply with ambiguous and unintelligible new record keeping requirements upon pain of the threat of loss of their license to conduct business, and under the threat of selective prosecution,” the dealers complain in Yolo County Court.
The two plaintiffs – the only junk dealers in Woodland – say the city illegally singled them out in the law. (High copper prices have led to a rash of thefts from construction sites, commercial and residential buildings nationwide, with fire extinguishers and copper tubes from water heaters especial targets.)
The Woodland ordinance forces scrap metal dealers to keep “exact descriptions” of “particular and prominent marks” on the junk they buy and to take fingerprints of the sellers.
But the scrap dealers insist, “No one associated with Defendants has been able to provide a reasonable or intelligible explanation of what is meant by these terms. There is no common understanding of what these terms mean, as applied to the daily flow of truckloads of metal junk of every size, shape and degree of disassembly and deterioration which are sold to recyclers. A statute that requires an act in terms so vague that people of common intelligence must guess at its meaning violates the first essential of due process of law.”