Golden Glow v. City of Columbus, MS, No. 21-60898 (5th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Golden Glow Tanning Salon filed a civil rights suit against the City of Columbus, which shut down its business for seven weeks at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The district court granted the City’s motion for summary judgment. Subsequent experience strongly suggests that draconian shutdowns were debatable measures from a cost-benefit standpoint, in that they inflicted enormous economic damage without necessarily “slowing the spread” of Covid-19. Golden Glow contends that the City Ordinance created an arbitrary distinction between tanning salons and liquor stores that bore no rational relationship to public health given the salon’s ability to operate safely and without customer contact
The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court wrote that the proffered reason is not arbitrary. Further, this conclusion is not altered by Golden Glow’s contention that it could have maintained a safer environment than could liquor stores. Under rational basis review, overinclusive and underinclusive classifications are permissible, as is some resulting inequality. Further, here, the closure of the salon constitutes a deprivation of some economically productive uses (i.e., the uses forbidden by the Ordinance’s Section 2). Nothing in the record supports the conclusion that the City Ordinance rendered the entire property “valueless.” The district court was correct to find that there had been no per se taking.