Expressions Hair Design, et al. v. Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General of New York, et al.
Summary of the Case
A new statute was established by the Attorney General and the District Attorney concerning the way the credit card transactions were to be conducted. Notably, the statute prohibited surcharges on credit card transactions (“Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman,” n.d). Given its scope, all businesses located in New York were expected to comply with the statute. While the law was aimed at regulating economic activity, it was contended by the Expressions Hair Design et al., who viewed the statute as a violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and unconstitutionally vague under the Due process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Summary of the Procedural History of the Case
The case in question began in the district court, where a suit was filed by the Expressions Hair Design alongside four other New York businesses, against Eric T. Schneiderman and the District Attorney. After the ruling, the claims were upheld, and the statute was considered unconstitutionally vague under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and a violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment (“Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman,” n.d). However, an appellate hearing by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the ruling and termed the statute as constitutional evident. Due to the discrepancies in the courts’ decisions, the case was ultimately petitioned in the Supreme Court.
The Key Facts of the Case
The statute in question was a new business prohibition law that aimed at regulating economic activity. However, to the business community, the statute was regarded as a violation of the First and Fourteenth amendment. While the district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dissented on the grounds that the statute was a permissible law.
Appellate Court Decision and Reasoning
The appellate court held that the statute was not unconstitutionally vague; hence, it qualified as clear regulation of the economic activity. Notably, it was argued that prices were neither inherently protected speech, nor was the meaning of the law unclear (“Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman,” n.d). Therefore, the law was considered as constitutional clear.
Key Legal Questions That were Argued Before the SCOTUS and the Decision
The critical question in the case was whether the New York General Business Law prohibition of credit card surcharges violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment or the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (“Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman,” n.d). In response to the question, the Supreme Court held that the statute implicated the First Amendment. However, it was decided that the law was not unconstitutionally vague under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Supreme Court Justice Writing the Majority Opinion
The Supreme Court Majority opinion approved the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s stance on the qualification of the statute as constitutionally clear. However, the Supreme Court also questioned the appellant’s decision because it lacked a clear ground on whether the law implicated the First or the Fourteenth Amendment (“Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman,” n.d). Nonetheless, the court decided that although the statute was constitutionally clear, some of its affiliate laws required further interpretation to answer the legal question fully.
Based on the analysis of the case, I would concur with the decision made by the district court concerning the statute. Markedly, the law failed to specify the scope of limitation, whether the prohibitions would be subjected to discounts or surcharges, making it unconstitutionally vague. Thus, the statute was a violation of the First amendment.
“Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman” (N.d). Oyez. Retrieved from https://www.oyez.org/cases/2016/15-1391