Pushback at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport

The powers-that-be at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — the Metropolitan Airports Commission — have voted unanimously to require airoprt taxis to serve all comers, regardless of their compliance with sharia law: “Taxi drivers can’t refuse riders, MAC rules.” The Star Tribune reports:

Starting May 11, airport taxi drivers who refuse to transport riders carrying alcohol will be suspended for 30 days. And after a second offense, their license would be revoked for two years.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission voted 11-0 Monday to approve the crackdown, which some Muslim drivers say violates their religious beliefs. Commissioners called the change reasonable, practical and important for rider safety.
“We are sending a message that if you want to drive a taxi at our airport you can’t refuse our customers,” Steve Wareham, operations manager of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The only approved refusals would involve the driver’s safety or would be prompted by riders, such as excess luggage or large families.
Jeff Hassan, a lawyer representing Muslim cabbies, said the issue might wind up going to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
According to MAC figures, there have been about one dozen alcohol-related refusals each month, out of roughly 60,000 monthly rides.
There are currently 900 licensed cab drivers at the airport. About three-quarters are Somali, and a majority of those are Muslim.
Hassan, had earlier told hearing officers about a 1990 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that allowed Amish people to forego displaying bright orange triangles on their buggies for religious reasons.
Many airport taxi drivers say the proposed penalties would force them to chose between their Islamic beliefs and their jobs. They say their religion prohibits drinking, selling and carrying alcohol, so transporting a rider with alcohol would be a sin.

In other words, the MAC is requiring airport taxis to fulfill their responsibility as common carriers; that’s what Curt Brown dubs a “crackdown.” Jeff Hassan appears to be blowing smoke. Hassan’s quoted comment alludes to a 1990 Minnesota Supreme Court decision illustrating the proposition that Walter Berns has called “the importance of being Amish.” The Minnesota Supreme Court’s 2002 Odenthal decision most recently set forth the applicable principles. In any event, however, the Metropolitan Airports Commission has already been sued by the flying imams. I think the attitude of the MAC may be that the taxi drivers can get in line.
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