Moving Company Sues State for Enforcing a ‘Protectionist Advantage’

By CJ Ciaramella
Associate Editor, Oregon Commentator

PSU student Adam Sweet and his brother started a part-time moving business with their pickup truck. Soon business was flourishing, and they were successful enough to afford a real moving van. They christened their new, full-time outfit “2Brothers Moving Company.”

Imagine their surprise when the state fined them and towed their van because they didn’t have an “Oregon Intrastate Certificate to Transport Household Goods or Passengers.” In the state of Oregon, all moving companies must be licensed. Now Sweet, with the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation, is suing Oregon Attorney General Hardy Meyers, claiming the licensing system violates his 14th Amendment rights and provides “an unequal and unconstitutionally protectionist advantage to established moving companies who are able to limit their own prospective competition.”

Here’s what Sweet means by “protectionist advantage:” Even if 2Brothers had applied for the license, they probably wouldn’t have gotten it. The state notifies all other moving companies about a new application; and if they object, the application will be denied.

According to the PLF, every company for the last two years that has applied for the license has been denied. A certain word seems to spring to mind in this situation:

Cartel: a combination of independent commercial or industrial enterprises designed to limit competition or fix prices.

Surely the fact that 2Brothers was significantly undercutting regular moving companies had nothing to do with the state bringing the hammer down on them. Here’s the case complaint, and there’s also a video from the PLF outlining the case.

Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon’s free market public policy research center.