ON-Lion Letter
In August, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's Minimum Markup Law.  The lawsuit was filed in Vilas County, and the plaintiffs include Krist Oil, a family-owned, Michigan-based gas and petroleum-product retailer that operates gas stations throughout the state, as well as Robert Lotto, a Wisconsin citizen.  According to the complaint filed by WILL, both Krist Oil and Lotto suffer harm as a result of the Minimum Markup Law because it controls prices, keeping them artificially high for consumers and businesses.

The law in question, which was passed in 1939, forbids wholesalers and retailers from selling general merchandise at less than cost.  It also requires a 6% markup for retail sales of alcohol and tobacco, and a 9.18% markup for retail sales of gasoline.  WILL argues that this legislation restricts the economic liberty and right to earn a living guaranteed by the Wisconsin Constitution.  In addition, WILL argues that the law denies Lotto and all Wisconsin citizens the benefits of free and open competition.  
Supporters of the law claim that without it, larger retailers will engage in predatory pricing and drive smaller, retailers out of business, but WILL argues that such claims are obfuscatory because predatory pricing is rarely if ever attempted in the modern economy, and such practices are already prohibited by state statutes and federal law, such as the Sherman Antitrust Act.  Although there have been other challenges to the Minimum Markup Law in the past, none has resolved the constitutional issue presented in this case.  

According to WILL president and general counsel Rick Esenberg, "It's important that that the State of Wisconsin publicly stand up and argue how Wisconsin's constitutional guarantee to earn a living is secondary to ensuring that protected special interests shouldn't have to be subject to competition and that consumers should pay higher prices than market forces would call for."

WILL has prepared a video explaining the case, which is available online.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation substantially supports WILL.
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