Bureau chief’s note: The following is an opinion piece written by Daniel Horwitz, a constitutional lawyer who practices in Nashville.
The Tennessee Supreme Court has agreed to hear a laughably egregious case of economic protectionism in its upcoming term. The case pits Vanderbilt Law School alumnus Maximiliano Gluzman – a preeminently qualified lawyer who graduated Vanderbilt’s LL.M. program with an almost impossible 3.919 GPA – against the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, which has refused to allow Mr. Gluzman to take the Tennessee bar exam solely because he’s foreign.
Given the extraordinary facts of Mr. Gluzman’s case, the Board will struggle to mount a straight-faced claim that its decision to deny Mr. Gluzman the opportunity to take the Tennessee bar exam is based on anything other than its interest in protecting Tennessee’s native-born attorneys from competition—a result that benefits lawyers but harms consumers by artificially raising prices. As a consequence, the case has the potential to extend Tennessee’s already-robust precedent on economic liberty to an industry that it has never reached before: legal services.
In 2002, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit – which has jurisdiction over Tennessee – established ground-breaking federal precedent by holding that “protecting a discrete interest group from economic competition is not a legitimate governmental purpose” and violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Significantly, though, the Tennessee Supreme Court boasts an even prouder history of protecting economic liberty under the comparable provisions of Tennessee’s state Constitution.