Thursday, July 02, 2009

This one is toast

Here’s the headline on a recent KSTP web article:

Some Retailers Unaware of New Minn. Flag Law

Here’s a little about the law from the article:

American flags made in China? Some say it's unpatriotic, but it's also illegal in Minnesota. It's a new law that even some national retailers are not aware of.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS alerted the manager of the St. Paul Pier 1 store that the tiny, China-made U.S. flags it is selling for 95-cents are not allowed under a 2007 state law. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS checked four Twin Cities Pier 1 Imports and found the flags in all of them.

In a statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Pier 1 said "We are unaware of the Minnesota state law that you brought to our attention. We will investigate this issue and make adjustments in order to comply with any applicable Minnesota state law."

"If anything that should be made in this country, it's the flag," said DFL Rep. Tom Rukavina, who introduced the bill. He hopes other companies will get the message too.

"They should have known the law. The department of commerce or somebody should enforce the law and make sure they get a little slap on the wrist so it doesn't happen at another store," said Rukavina.

Sorry, Tom, and Spot really means sorry, but you can’t restrict interstate commerce that way. There is absolutely no legitimate regulatory purpose. Want flame resistant flags to keep protesters from burning themselves? Then write a law addressed to the flammability of flags. Want the flags to be reflective so that motorists will see late-night Fourth of July revelers along the roads in the dark? Then require them to be reflective. These might still be impermissible burdens on interstate commerce, but you could at least make them with a straight face.

But the state of Minnesota may not have a foreign policy. Foreign and interstate commerce is regulated by the feds. The Interstate Commerce Clause could take care of this law with a small wave of the Mighty Paw. [The Mighty Paw is the Invisible Hand’s opposite number.]

In fact, this would be a good one for Lee McGrath’s Institute for Justice. No actual civil liberties are involved here: just dollars — or maybe yuan — yearning to breathe free. Perfect.

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