Moore-King v. County of Chesterfield, VA, No. 11-2183 (4th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, seeking to offer services as a psychic and spiritual counsel in the County of Chesterfield, challenged the application of regulations enacted by the County affecting fortune tellers. The County regulated fortune tellers in four ways, one of which was applicable to all those operating a business in the County, with the others more specific to fortune tellers. The district court considered and rejected plaintiff's claims and plaintiff subsequently appealed. The court held that the First Amendment Free Speech Clause afforded some degree of protection to plaintiff's activities where the County could not establish either premise of its argument that fortune telling was inherently deceptive speech outside the scope of the First Amendment. However, the County's regulations did not abridge plaintiff's First Amendment freedom of speech where the County's regulation of plaintiff's activities fell squarely within the scope of the professional speech doctrine. The court agreed with the district court's conclusion that granting summary judgment to the County on plaintiff's constitutional and statutory religion claims was proper where plaintiff's beliefs comprised a way of life, and not a religious exercise. Finally, plaintiff's Equal Protection argument failed where the court, applying rational basis review, held that the County's regulatory scheme was rationally related to a legitimate government interest. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.