It’s not every day that a city takes unconstitutional actions that have drastic consequences for both its residents and visitors. But that’s exactly what happened when the Phoenix City Council decided to increase fees on ride-sharing trips to Sky Harbor Airport by 200%. This week, the Goldwater Institute announced that it is stepping up on behalf of drivers and passengers who will suffer from the city’s decision.

Paul Rowe, an Arizona resident for over 32 years, is one of those individuals. Paul started driving on the Uber and Lyft platforms to fill his time after his long-time partner passed away. A retiree, Paul also now relies on his ride-sharing earnings as supplemental income. After the city passed the fee increases, the major ride-sharing companies, Uber and Lyft, announced that they were pulling out of Sky Harbor — and that would have serious consequences for Paul and his riders.

“Uber and Lyft provide affordable rates with prompt, courteous, and timely service to the airport,” Paul said. “The potential loss of these services, or a major increase in their cost, will result in lost income for drivers and a major inconvenience to the traveling public.”

The Phoenix City Council passed these new fees despite warnings from the Goldwater Institute that doing so was not only horrendous policy but also violates the plain language of the Arizona Constitution, which was overwhelmingly amended by voters last year to prohibit any new or increased fees on services performed in the state. 

On Thursday, the Goldwater Institute filed a motion with the Arizona Supreme Court on behalf of ride-sharing drivers and passengers to join a case challenging the constitutionality of the city of Phoenix’s fee raises on ride-sharing services at Sky Harbor Airport. You can read more about the case here.

VIDEO: Challenging Phoenix’s Fees on Uber and Lyft Airport Rides

Here’s Some Rare Good News for California Homeowners

Good news is hard to come by for California property owners. But recently, there’s been reason to be hopeful. Just last week, a California trial court ruled that Del Mar, a tourist city famous for its beautiful beaches and world-renowned horse-racing track, couldn’t ban short-term rentals because city officials failed to follow proper procedure.

This decision comes on the heels of similar rulings against the coastal cities of Santa Barbara and Pacific Grove, both of whom attempted to pass anti-home-sharing rules without getting approval from the California Coastal Commission.

Read more about the decision and what it means for property rights here.

This Federal Law Denies Indian Children Their Equal Protection Rights

Judges of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals are heard arguments this week in the Brackeen case, which challenges the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a 40-year-old federal law that imposes a separate set of rules on child welfare cases that involve Native American children—rules that are less protective of their welfare and deny them the equal protection to which they’re entitled.

The Goldwater Institute has long fought to ensure that all American kids, regardless of race, receive the same legal security, and we’ve filed friend-of-the-court briefs in Brackeen and other ICWA cases to that effect. Our 2015 investigative report Death on a Reservation pulled back the curtain on the damage ICWA has wrought on Indian children, and our 2017 report Escaping the ICWA Penalty Box detailed the racially discriminatory laws that ICWA imposes on these vulnerable kids.

The plaintiffs in Brackeen are a group of state attorneys general, and families who opened their homes to abused and neglected Native American kids, only to be told that they were of the “wrong” race, and that “Indian children” must be adopted by “other Indian families” instead of families of other races. That barrier against adoption is only one of the many ways that ICWA draws a color line across the lives of at-risk children.

Read more about the case and how the Goldwater Institute is fighting to ensure that Native American children’s equal protection rights are protected.

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