Saturday, October 27, 2007

Los Altos's anti-gypsy ordinance

Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States guarantees citizens certain "privileges and immunities." The Supreme Court has interpreted this to mean that neither states, counties nor cities can discriminate against non-residents' economic activities without a "substantial reason" for doing so.

All of this leads to the following question:

What could possibly be the substantial reason Los Altos has for limiting fortune-telling and palm-reading permits to residents of the county? (See Title 4, chapter 16). Was there a huge problem with gypsies blowing into town and ... doing what exactly?

The offending part of the law reads:
No person shall practice the business of palmistry, fortune-telling, astrology, prediction of the future, or any similar practice for a fee or any other item of value without first having obtained a permit from the city manager.

...

Any person holding a permit pursuant to this chapter shall be a citizen of the United States, of good character, over the age of twenty-one (21) year, a resident for one year last past of the county, and have a city address wherein operations will alone be lawful.

Another part of the law excludes would-be fortunetellers who have previously been convicted of trickery or deceit.

If any non-residents out there are interested in applying for such a permit and bringing a federal court challenge when the city refuses, I am your lawyer.

2 comments:

Mike Laursen said...

"Doing what exactly?" Well, duh, that's obvious: dancing enchantingly around the gypsy campfire, mesmerizing all the stalwart, yet unworldly, menfolk of Los Altos whilst their pockets are being picked. Zingari!

Deke's wife said...

Jon,
I'm so happy you brought up this terrible law. I was fined several times under this ordinance.

With the fines growing each citation, I couldn't afford to sell my trinkets in "the 'Tos" any longer :-(

- Deke's wife

P.S. I have mad trinkets for sale. Hit me up with a text next time you're in San Carlos.