Perhaps in the 60's we needed regulations against barbers going around cutting off hippies' hair.
Perhaps in the 600's barbers need to be licensed; after all, bleeding someone to cure them of what ails can be dangerous.
But in the here and now do we really need SWAT teams to regulate who can own a barber pole? The Orange County Sheriff's Office in Florida (OSCO) professed that necessity, but the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, fortunately, thought otherwise.
This is a direct quote from the 11th Circuit's decision:
It was a scene right out of a Hollywood movie. ... teams from the OCSO descended on multiple target locations... With some team members dressed in ballistic vests and masks, and with guns drawn, the deputies rushed into their target destinations, handcuffed the stunned occupants - and demanded to see their barbers' licenses...
Then the judges weighed in on the question of whether OSCO understands plain English.
We first held 19 years ago that conducting a run-of-the-mill administrative inspection as though it is a crminal raid... violates clearly established 4th Amendment rights... We reaffirmed that principle in 2007... Today, we repeat that same message again. We hope that the third time will be the charm.
And the story as told in the opinion gets even more insane.
... Upon discovering that barbering without a license is a 2nd-degree misdemeanor under Florida law... Vidler became intrigued by the possibility of a collaboration between the Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and OCSO, and spent over a month... developing a plan for a joint sweep operation... All of the targeted barbershops were businesses that serviced primarily African-American and Hispanic clientele...
The sweep occurred as follows: Two plain clothes officers initially entered... several of the customers in the shop were children. Shortly after... a "whole bunch" of police cars pulled in... Officers then "rushed into" Strictly Skillz "like a SWAT team." ... Some donned masks and bulletproof vests and had their guns drawn.
The Circuit Court opinion goes on to affirm the lower court decision that the police officers conducting the raid are not entitled to "qualified immunity," because basically the entire operation, start to finish, was clearly unconstitutional.
The case against the officers for violations of the barbers' civil rights may now proceed to trial, assuming no en banc or Supreme Court appeal.
We (speaking in the royal here) hope they get clipped.
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