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Category: Economic Liberty

Press Coverage of Brooke Gray’s Case

Press Coverage of Brooke Gray’s Case

Trial has now concluded in Brooke Gray’s Animal Husbandry Freedom case! In fifteen days the Attorney General’s Office will submit its first brief, then we’ll have fifteen additional days to write a Response Brief, then the Attorney General will have ten days for a Reply Brief. And after that, we wait to see what the judge decides.

One exciting bit of news is that our case represented Missouri in the “Across the USA” section of today’s USA Today – which, sadly, is not available in the online version. Nevertheless, a number of news outlets have picked up the story:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

KMBC – Kansas City

KCTV – Kansas City

Springfield News-Leader

Columbia Missourian

Joplin Globe

KOAM – Joplin

KTTS – Springfield, MO

KAIT – Jonesboro, AR

The (Bridgeport) Connecticut Post

Houston Chronicle

San Francisco (CA) Examiner

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

San Antonio (TX) Express

Albany (NY) Times-Union

Danbury (CT) News-Times

NECN – Boston, MA

Belleville (IL) News-Democrat

Columbus (IN) Republic

Animal Husbandry on Trial

Animal Husbandry on Trial

On Monday, September 26, Brooke Gray will go on trial because the Missouri Veterinary Medical Board says it is illegal for non-veterinarians to provide basic animal husbandry services for animal owners. This determination could completely disrupt the way animal agriculture is done in the state of Missouri, as farmers and ranchers have always been able to seek help from neighbors or hired hands when they needed help with basic tasks. But, as these cease-and-desist letters from the Veterinary Medical Board demonstrate, all that could be coming to an end:

Missouri is currently home to 10 million chickens; 8 million turkeys; 4 million cattle; 3 million hogs; 281,000 horses; 92,000 goats and 81,000 sheep, many of which are at least partially cared for by the state’s non-veterinarian livestock workers. As far as horses are concerned, the federal government’s statistics show that a great many horse owners rely on non-veterinarians as sources of health care information and services such as corrective horseshoeing and routine dentistry. That same study found that “as the size of [horse management] operation increased, the percentage of operations where an equine dentist (nonveterinarian) provided primary dental care increased,” and that horseracing facilities – those with the greatest financial stake in their horses’ health and performance – were more likely to use nonveterinarian equine dentists than they were to use licensed vets.

The Board’s Executive Director testified at her deposition that the law may make an entire range of services illegal – even trimming an animal’s nails or cutting its fur!

A judicial decision to uphold the Missouri Veterinary Medical Board’s interpretation of this law would put at risk thousands of agricultural jobs. It would make it exponentially more expensive for livestock owners to manage their herds because they would have to hire licensed veterinarians to do the work – assuming they could even find a vet available to do it. These outcomes could be devastating for Missouri’s agricultural community – the courts must rule that the government may not constitutionally enforce this law.

Two More Filings at the Missouri Supreme Court

Two More Filings at the Missouri Supreme Court

Earlier this week the Freedom Center filed documents related to two of our cases with the Missouri Supreme Court.

The first filing addresses the Court’s opinion in our recent Kansas City Premier Apartments case. While the majority determined that at least part of KCPA’s speech was forbidden by state law and not protected under the First Amendment, it also said that KCPA would be exempt from regulation if it “merely wanted to advertise or provide information.” Ryan and Tiffany would like to conform their business to what the law allows, but neither the trial court nor the Missouri Supreme Court offered any guidance as to where the line is drawn between the information KCPA may lawfully provide and the communications that the Court believes to be forbidden. This filing asks the Court to provide that guidance so KCPA will not have to fear further enforcement actions while it waits to see if the U.S. Supreme Court will consider its First Amendment claims.

In the second filing, Brooke Gray is asking the Missouri Supreme Court to ensure her constitutional right to a jury trial. While the government has argued that it is only pursuing a civil claim against her, it can only win the case if if proves at trial that Brooke committed a series of Class A misdemeanors. In any other case where the government is attempting to prove that criminal acts took place, the defendant would be entitled to have a jury of their peers weigh the quality of the government’s evidence and decide the facts to which the court would apply the law. The trial judge in this case, however, has determined that Brooke has no right to a jury trial. In this filing, we explain why 130 years of Missouri law supports her demand for a jury.

The Government War On Kid-Run Concession Stands

The Government War On Kid-Run Concession Stands

View Local Restrictions on Kid-Run Concession Stands in a larger map
Red = Town has previously shut down kid-run concession stands.
Yellow = Town says kid-run concession stands are illegal unless the kids obtain at least one city permit.
Green = Town permits kid-run concession stands without requiring any permits.

June 8, 2015 – The Chief of Police in little Overton, Texas, informed 7- and 8-year-old sisters that their lemonade stand violated the town’s ordinances unless they obtained a $150 “peddler’s permit.”  When a neighbor went to get that permit, he was told that the girls would also need a separate permit from the local health department.

May 20, 2015 – Health Department officials in Batavia, New York, required officials for local Little League baseball teams to throw away pizza and hot dogs that parents and children were selling at their games because the had not paid a $175 permit for each of the two stands at the ballpark.

August 26, 2014 – A 12-year-old boy in Dunedin, Florida, got a lesson in petty tyranny when his 61-year-old neighbor repeatedly badgered city officials to shut down the concession stand at which he sells cookies and lemonade.  County police came to the neighborhood several times as a result, but appear to have stopped short of demanding the closure of the stand.

May 19, 2014 – Police in San Francisco, California, tell an 11-year-old that it is not just illegal to sell lemonade and brownies… even giving them away for free would result in a $1,500 fine!

January 27, 2014 – An 11-year-old in Troy, Illinois, was making about $200 per month selling homemade cupcakes in her community… until the Madison County Health Department commanded her to shut down the business.  The government officials said she could only continue selling cupcakes if she bought a bakery or built a new, dedicated cupcake-making kitchen separate from the existing kitchen.

August 8, 2013 – Police in Queens, New York, shut down a lemonade stand run by 9-year-old Nora and 11-year-old Jameala Lahoud, arguing that anyone who operates any food stand is required to get a permit from the Department of Health – no exceptions.

August 3, 2013 – The Farrell family lives in the community that hosts the Reno-Tahoe Open golf tournament and for years Emma and Alex Farrell set up a concession stand in front of their house to cater to those attending the event.  But when another vendor complained that the girls’ stand was serving people who otherwise would have to come to the vendor, Washoe County health officials demanded the closure of the girls’ concession stand.

August 10, 2012 – An enterprising young man whose family was enduring severe financial difficulty decided to invest in a hot dog stand that, he hoped, would help keep him and his parents off the streets.  Those hopes were dashed when city zoning officials deemed his hot dog stand illegal.  Although he was subsequently invited to sell his hot dogs are events in various other communities, each location required new, costly health department permits that drained away his profits.

April 16, 2012 – For years the Westbury family had sold lemonade, cookies, and banana bread from the end of their driveway in Hopkinton, Massachusetts to spectators at the Boston Marathon; the family donated the proceeds to Relay for Life, an anti-cancer charity.  But on April 16, 2012, city health officials shut them down because they had not obtained a permit.

August 6, 2011 – The Massachusetts State Police shut down the stand of a 12-year-old refugee from Fukushima, Japan, who was selling green tea he’d brought with him when they evacuated after the tsunami.

August 1, 2011 – Police officers in Coralville, Iowa, ordered at least three different sets of children to quit selling lemonade during the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa unless they first got a vendor’s permit and a health inspection. This is the first known example of a coordinated set of shutdowns at a single time.

July 19, 2011 – McAllen, Texas shuts down girls’ lemonade stand for failure to obtain food permit, may assess grandmother $50 fine.

July 17, 2011 – Police in Appleton, Wisconsin inform children that despite legally selling lemonade and cookies in their front yard during an annual city festival for the past six or seven years, a new city ordinance bans these sales in order to protect licensed vendors from competition.

July 15, 2011 – Cops in Midway, Georgia shut down a lemonade stand some kids were running in their own front yard, saying the kids had to obtain a peddler’s license, a food license, and pay $50 per day for a temporary business permit.

June 16, 2011 – County Inspector in Maryland closes kids’ lemonade stand, fines parents $500.

June 10, 2011 – Philadelphia Department of Health shuts down cancer charity’s lemonade stand for lack of permit, hand-washing station.

March 7, 2011 – Hazelwood, Missouri, demands an end to Girl Scouts’ driveway cookie stand.

February 26, 2011 – Georgia police demand closure of Girl Scout cookie stand until girls obtain a peddler’s permit.

February 26, 2011 – In a separate incident, Savannah, Georgia, determines that city ordinances require an end to 40 year tradition of Girl Scouts selling cookies outside the historic home of the organization’s founder.

November 15, 2010 – Politician in New York sics police on 13-year-olds for selling cupcakes.

October 23, 2010 – Idaho Tax Commission official demands closure of children’s roadside pumpkin stand.

August 6, 2010 – Oregon health inspector orders lemonade stand closed unless 7-year-old girl obtains $120 license.

July 26, 2010 – San Francisco police shut down a concession stand at which a little girl was selling lemonade and brownies.

August 8, 2009 – California code enforcement officer shuts down 8-year-old girl’s lemonade stand for lack of city license.

July 19, 2009 – Police officers in Pennsylvania shut down neighborhood lemonade stand.

August 28, 2008 – Neighborhood produce stand operated by 11-year-old and 4-year-old ordered closed in Clayton, California.

August 19, 2008 – New York City Police close lemonade stand operated by 9- and 10-year old, demanding they first obtain permits – which the children subsequently requested and were denied.

July 19, 2008 – The Mayor of Claremont, California, ordered the closure of a Girl Scout Cookie stand. Afterward, the City Council proposed that all “solicitors” in the city – specifically including Girl Scouts – must have a permit before going door-to-door. After an initial furor, the ordinance passed.

September 25, 2005 – City officials in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, threaten to shut down lemonade stand operated by Brownie troop raising funds to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.

August 3, 2005 – 11- and 9-year-old selling lemonade on Salem Common in Massachusetts are ordered to shut down after nearby sausage vendor complains to police that they were negatively affecting his business.

January 6, 2005 – 10-year-old in Miami Beach, Florida, told the city would not issue her a permit to sell lemonade to raise funds for disaster relief.

August 14, 2004 – St. Louis city health commissioner demands shut down of 10- and 12-year-olds’ lemonade stand for lack of proper licenses and “unsafe ice cubes.”

July 13, 2004 – Despite having a permit from one city department in Las Cruces, New Mexico, three sisters were forced to close their front-yard drink stand.

August 27, 2003 – St. Paul, Minnesota’s Office of Licenses, Inspections and Environmental Protection shut down a seven-year-old’s drink stand because she had not obtained a $60 license.

June 13, 2003 – Law enforcement officials in Naples, Florida, shut down stand selling lemonade and cookies without city license.

August 7, 2001 – County zoning officers in Rio Nido, California, demand closure of children’s snack stand.

Unknown date, 1993 – In 1993 police officers in Charleston, South Carolina, shut down a concession stand run by 12-year-old Sarah Knott and 13-year-old Margaret Johnson, stating that the girls needed to obtain a peddler’s license from the city.  Public opposition in the wake of the shut-down led the city to relent and offer an apology. h/t – Rob Lammie at Mental Floss.

July 23, 1990 – 13-year-old drink vendor shut down by city officials in Ojai, California, for lack of city permits. When he finally got all the necessary licenses, he was able to put what he learned into practice – by calling city officials to shut down other kids who were selling lemonade without a license.

Unknown date, 1988 – In 1988 the city of Watchung, New Jersey, threatened to fine nine-year-old Max Schilling $500 per day for operating a lemonade stand.  The family applied for a zoning variance, which the City ultimately approved with some conditions. h/t – Rob Lammie at Mental Floss.

Unknown date, 1983 – In 1983 an anonymous neighbor complained about six-year-old Ali Thorn’s lemonade stand and the city of Belleair, Florida, ordered her stand closed.  The city relented a week and a half later, having decided that its ordinances were not intended to prevent kid-run concession stands. h/t – Rob Lammie at Mental Floss.


Missouri Supreme Court: Government May Criminalize Truthful, Harmless Information

Missouri Supreme Court: Government May Criminalize Truthful, Harmless Information

CONTACT: Dave Roland, (314) 604-6621

Missouri Supreme Court: Government May Criminalize Truthful, Harmless Speech

St. Louis, Missouri—On July 19 the Missouri Supreme Court issued its opinion in Kansas City Premier Apartments v. Missouri Real Estate Commission, in which it upheld a state law that criminalizes the communication of truthful, harmless information. Although at trial the government’s own expert witness had testified that KCPA’s speech was both truthful and unlikely to cause any harm to the public, five of the high court’s seven judges ruled that Missouri citizens may not tell others about real estate unless the government has given them special permission to do so.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects nude dancing, burning the American flag, and images of animals being crushed to death,” said Dave Roland, director of litigation for the Freedom Center of Missouri, the public interest law firm challenging the speech restrictions. “But today the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that you can be thrown in jail for helping a friend find an apartment.”

The court’s ruling runs contrary to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent emphasis on protecting free expression. As Judge Michael A. Wolff pointed out in his dissenting opinion, less than one month ago the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Vermont law that prohibited the sale of certain commercial information, powerfully reaffirming the constitutional principles that should have applied to the speech restrictions at issue in this case.

Wolff, whose opinion was joined by Chief Justice Teitelman, also highlighted the government’s failure to identify any likely harm that might justify the prohibition of KCPA’s speech: “If the state wants an injunction limited only to the use of false or deceptive information, the state may be able to make the required showing. But the broad prohibition of this injunction violates the First Amendment.”

The Freedom Center’s executive director Jenifer Zeigler Roland said, “The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that where the government seeks to restrict speech, it must show evidence as why that restriction is necessary. In this case the government offered no evidence to justify its criminalization of truthful speech. By failing to protect KCPA’s speech, the majority has left all Missourians at the mercy of overzealous bureaucrats.”

The Freedom Center of Missouri plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Founded in 2010, the non-profit, St. Louis-based Freedom Center of Missouri represents individuals statewide fighting to defend free speech rights and the right to earn an honest living in the occupations of their choice. Additional information about the Freedom Center’s mission, cases, and activities can be found online at

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[NOTE: To arrange interviews on this subject, journalists may call Dave Roland at (314) 604-6621.]

FCMo Update – June 2011

FCMo Update – June 2011

Friends of the Freedom Center,

It would almost be funny if it wasn’t true, but the Big Government war on lemonade stands continues. As we have said from the day we filed our Cookie Stand case, the Mills family and the Freedom Center of Missouri are on the cutting edge of an issue with important national implications. To the best of our knowledge, no one else in the country has taken it upon themselves to stand up for property rights by demanding that the courts rule on the constitutionality of these government shutdowns. We are the shock troops in this battle.

The forces lining up against us are formidable. Just today we discovered that the City of Hazelwood has lined up four attorneys from two different firms in order to preserve the City’s authority to deny private property owners the right to use their property even the most simple and harmless of ways. The City’s taxpayer-funded team includes the 2011 “St. Louis Municipal Lawyer of the Year,” who is consistently honored by Best Lawyers Magazine, as well as another highly-regarded municipal attorney who is also regularly honored by the same publication. Fortunately, we have the Constitution on our side – and no number of legal mercenaries can change the fact that the City is trying to prevent Girl Scouts from selling cookies for charity!

I’m going to ask a favor of you. Please pass this message along to everyone else you know who believes in the constitutional protection of property rights, and especially pass it along to anyone you know in the media. People must know what is happening all over our country, and they need to know that the Freedom Center is fighting for all of us. We hold the constitutional – and moral – high ground, but this is shaping up to be a tough, expensive fight and we need all the support we can get. Thank you so much for being part of our team. With your help, freedom will prevail!

For Liberty,

Dave Roland
Director of Litigation

Brooke Gray Moves For Summary Judgment

Brooke Gray Moves For Summary Judgment

From the first day that she found out that the Missouri Veterinary Medical Board was attempting to deprive her of her right to earn a living, Brooke Gray has insisted that the Board was failing to comply with the very statute it claimed as authority for its lawsuit. Today, Ms. Gray formally asked the trial court to address this issue and to grant summary judgment in her favor. Read her arguments below!