September 30, 2006

Where's the ACLU?

Just imagine if these were Christian taxi drivers refusing to drive, say, homosexuals, because their religious beliefs denounce homosexuality:

Got wine at the airport? It's harder to grab a cab. About three-quarters of the 900 taxi drivers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are Somalis, many of them Muslim. About three times daily, would-be customers are refused taxi service when a driver sees they're carrying alcohol. (Link.)

Aren't taxis, despite being privately owned, a "public accommodation"? What if these were radical fundamentalist Christian taxi drivers who refused to drive blacks? Hispanics? Asians? Because of their ... "beliefs"?

Now the airports commission has a solution: color-coding the lights on the taxi roofs to indicate whether a driver will accept a booze-toting fare. The actual colors haven't been decided on yet, but commission officials met Thursday with representatives of the taxi drivers and the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society to continue working on the plan.

There you go -- problem solved for my hypotheticals. Don't allow homosexuals? Just put a rainbow on top of your cab with a "null" symbol through it. No blacks? The color black with a null symbol. No Asians? Yellow with a null symbol.

Hey -- I believe any private entity should be able to do as it pleases in terms of who it serves, caters to, etc., but the law doesn't recognize my belief in this regard, especially (again) when it pertains to "public accommodations."

I like this comment from Polish immigrant Eva Buzek:

"I came to this country and I didn't expect anybody to adjust to my needs," she said. "I don't want to impose my beliefs on anyone else. That's why I'm in this country, because of the freedom. What's going to be next? ... Do I have to cover my head?"


(h/t: Volokh.)

Posted by Felix at September 30, 2006 09:09 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Are you really comparing race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. (established protected classes under the law) to "people toting booze?"

Note that Volokh himself, an attorney, doesn't object, because he actually knows what the heck he's talking about.

Posted by: Regal at September 30, 2006 11:51 AM

do they also refuse to cary women who are not wearing a burka? or are not escorted by a male family member? or men without beards?

Posted by: steamboat willly at September 30, 2006 11:55 AM

Big deal if Volokh doesn't object. I, like Felix, am a libertarian and believe that any private co. should be able to do as it pleases -- even if it is a public accomodation. Hence, as he noted, who cares what Muslim cab drivers (or anyone else) do.

But you're missing the gist of the post. Religious beliefs wouldn't be a sufficient reason to deny passage based on what Felix offers, and I'd recommend reading the many comments about this at Volokh's post. (Not to mention what SW says, too!) They pertain directly to what Felix is saying here.

Posted by: Hube at September 30, 2006 03:03 PM

Hey -- I believe any private entity should be able to do as it pleases in terms of who it serves, caters to, etc.

Hube, I'm assuming (praying?) that Felix (and you) mean *except* for race, gender, etc. discrimination.

Posted by: dan at October 1, 2006 11:18 AM


No -- I meant what I said. Though I recognize the realities of the political and legal situation, those actually interested in freedom would allow private entities to do as they please, in this case catering to who they wish. Social ostracism, not government mandates, would isolate cretins who refused service to people merely b/c of their race, etc.

As I said, ideally, a private Muslim-owned cab co. should be able to drive who they wish; likewise, a devout Christian (or Jew, Muslim) private renter should be able to refuse a room to, say, a homosexual couple. But since the government has held that "public accomodations" are exempt from "privately owned" status, shouldn't there be consistency? IOW, why are these Muslim cab drivers permitted to discriminate based merely on what a person has in their luggage (alcoholic beverages)?

Do you believe these cab drivers should be so permitted, dan?

Posted by: Hube at October 1, 2006 11:31 AM

Social ostracism, not government mandates, would isolate cretins who refused service to people merely b/c of their race, etc.

Before we move on, I'm just trying to clarify whether you believe that, in lieu of civil rights legislation, you think private American discriminatory entities in the 50's and 60's would have simply... been "ostracized?" Because people would have viewed them as "cretins"?? That without government action, we would *still* have somehow seen the end of segregated restaurants, hotels, etc.?

Perhaps you're just saying that *today* people would view them as cretins.

Posted by: dan at October 1, 2006 11:50 AM

dan: Yes, I sure do recognize the difficulties -- at least in delivering what I believe would be an ideal ... "balance" between public and private. First, to your point -- no, social ostracism likely would not have been sufficient alone in the 40s and 50s, especially since not many minorities had access to the means of establishing [private] businesses of their own. Contrariwise, yes, government action during that time was a big factor in "establishing" the mores which would lead to such social ostracism of racist entities in the modern era. As a result, I suppose I am voicing my philosophy based on the contemporary era. (This would be akin to, I suppose, not allowing unions to invoke seniority in order to let go of [mostly] black members during layoffs in the 40s-60s -- mainly b/c blacks were only then-recently allowed to join the unions!)

Now for an example, look at the Boy Scouts. The SCOTUS ruled they were allowed to act in the discriminatory manner that they believe is their right; however, governments (local and otherwise) then used anti-discrimination statutes to disallow the Scouts from utilizing many public facilities. Likewise, if a private diner refused service to, say, blacks, (this is a hypothetical, yes, as this is already an illegal act), the renter could refuse to further lease to the diner owner and/or local governments could find various "fine print" with which to annoy the diner owner.

Hope this makes sense. :-)

Posted by: Hube at October 1, 2006 12:07 PM

Hey dan: What do you think of this lawsuit given our discussion? ;-)

Posted by: Hube at October 1, 2006 12:17 PM

For the record, fundamentalist Christians taxi drivers should have no problem driving "blacks, Hispanics, Asians, because of their 'beliefs'" Actually, I can't imagine them having a problem with driving anyone in particular. Just saying. Nevertheless, I can't imagine them getting any support from the ACLU.

Posted by: Anna Venger at October 2, 2006 03:01 AM

Yes, I understand where you're coming from.

And that lawsuit you linked to is quite silly.

Posted by: dan at October 2, 2006 06:11 PM

Anna: Felix said radical fundie Christians in his post. There are indeed such who are bigoted.

Posted by: Hube at October 2, 2006 07:33 PM