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Lala Wang Goes to Supreme Court!

 

“The Lala Wang StoryŠ is available on CD
914 422 1990


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Contact Skip Oliva, CVT President
(202) 223-0071; smoliva@voluntarytrade.org

New York Businesswoman Appeals to Supreme Court; Claims New York Secretary of State Violated Her Constitutional Right to Engage in Lawful Trade

Arlington, VA -- Last week, Manhattan businesswoman LaLa Wang and a guest on the investigative radio program Scams-n-Scandals, filed a pro se petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of New York State’s decision to suspend her real estate broker’s license. Wang’s license was suspended because New York Secretary of State Randy Daniels found Wang operated an unlicensed “apartment information vendor”. New York law bans anyone from selling lists of apartments-for-rent without a license. Wang, however, never sold such lists, but rather she operated MLX.com, a real-time database that allows customers to access listings and other brokerage services. MLX.com’s database is essentially the same type of “multiple listing service” that brokers have been able to access for years. But when Wang tried to sell this information directly to the public at a lower cost, the state moved in to shut her down.

Wang’s Supreme Court petition raises three constitutional issues. First, New York violated Wang’s due process rights by suspending her broker’s license for conduct unrelated to her work as a broker—namely, running an allegedly unlicensed AIV. Secretary Daniels found Wang guilty of violating the AIV law despite lacking any statutory authority to make that determination. Only New York’s attorney general can prosecute AIV violations.

Second, Wang said the AIV law itself violates her First Amendment rights, because it prevents her from making truthful, non-misleading statements to the public about apartment rentals. Under Supreme Court precedents, the state may not restrict “commercial speech” unless it is narrowly tailored to meet a compelling state interest, which was not the case here. Wang was never charged with defrauding or injuring any consumer.

Third, Wang said that the New York courts improperly dismissed her constitutional concerns for lack of standing. The Secretary argued that Wang couldn’t challenge the AIV law because she wasn’t a licensed AIV. But this merely exposes the Secretary’s shell game: Wang’s alleged flaunting of the AIV law was the sole reason given for suspending her broker’s license, yet the courts below held she couldn’t challenge that reason for lack of standing. This is a nonsensical argument that shouldn’t fool most first-year law students, let alone two New York appellate courts.

Wang now awaits New York’s reply to her Supreme Court petition. That reply is due January 12, 2004. Other interested parties and organizations may file amicus briefs in support of Wang’s petition. Such briefs are also due with the Court by January 12, 2004. A PDF version of Wang’s petition can be downloaded at  CVT has prepared a report summarizing the issues in Wang’s appeal. That report can be downloaded here .

For additional information about this case, please contact CVT President Skip Oliva at (202) 223-0071 or smoliva@voluntarytrade.org.

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Citizens for Voluntary Trade
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Arlington, VA 22210
Tel: (571) 242-1766
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E-mail: info@voluntarytrade.org
Web: http://www.voluntarytrade.org
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