We posted Beth Kregor’s testimony given at city hall on July 19, 2012 at the public hearing regarding food trucks. This testimony is one given by Jacob Huebert of the Liberty Justice Center, a non-profit, non-partisan public-interest litigation center that fights to protect economic liberty, private property rights, free speech, and other fundamental rights in Illinois and beyond.
Jacob Huebert is an experienced appellate litigator. He received his B.A. in economics from Grove City College and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. After law school, he clerked for Judge Deborah L. Cook of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
At the hearing on the 19th, after the alderman gave their statements, then those in favor of the proposed amendments spoke, it was Jacob Huebert’s turn to testify. Up until this point truck owners had been berated and insulted by several hot-headed and/or out-of -touch aldermen, then by a parade of whining wealthy old white men. Then, came Jacob. He gave this testimony and, when he was through, the crowd cheered, filling the room with audible relief that finally someone was shooting down the unfounded and laughable claims that had been made up until that point. The aldermen’s scoffs and eyerolls continued throughout the meeting (especially from one Brendan Reilly), but at least Jacob kicked off the part of the hearing in which people fought for the constitutional rights of citizens. Odd that that wasn’t being done by any aldermen but Ald. John Arena (we love you JA)…
Testimony of Jacob Huebert, Associate Counsel, Liberty Justice Center
Submitted to the Chicago City Council Committee on License and Consumer Protection
July 19, 2012
Madame Chair, thank you for the opportunity to offer testimony here today. My name is Jacob Huebert, and I’m Associate Counsel with the Liberty Justice Center. The Liberty Justice Center is a non-profit, non-partisan public-interest litigation center that seeks to ensure that the rights to earn a living and to start a business are available to everyone.
I’m speaking here today in support of the proposed ordinance, but with the strongest of reservations. We welcome any step in the direction of greater freedom for entrepreneurs and consumers, but we urge the committee to remove the provision of this proposed ordinance that prohibits mobile food vehicles from standing within 200 feet of a restaurant entrance.
Under both the U.S. Constitution and the Illinois Constitution, the city government cannot interfere with an individual’s right to earn a living in the occupation of his or her choosing unless it is necessary to protect the public’s health, safety or welfare.
The “200-foot rule” does not serve to protect the public’s health, safety, or welfare. Instead, its only purpose is to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants from competition. Both federal courts and the Illinois Supreme Court have made clear that protecting private businesses from competition in this manner does not serve a legitimate governmental purpose, and the proposed ordinance’s 200-foot rule is therefore unconstitutional.
There has been a lot of talk here today about “negotiation” and “compromise.” But the City Council does not have the power to negotiate away the people’s rights, and it does not have the power to compromise citizens’ rights to protect the profits of a wealthy, politically connected special-interest group.
Therefore – rather than have the 200-foot rule challenged and struck down in the courts – this committee should do the right thing, remove it from the ordinance now, and give food-truck entrepreneurs the full freedom to which they’re entitled as citizens of Illinois and the United States.