Appeals Court backs MAC on Muslim taxi drivers

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • Updated: September 10, 2008 - 1:25 AM

Nine men who own or drive cabs at the airport and who refused to carry passengers with alcohol had appealed the license suspension.

Muslim cabbies who risk losing their taxi licenses if they refuse to carry passengers with alcohol from the airport won't get any help from the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission adopted an ordinance in March 2007 that suspends a driver's taxi license for 30 days for refusing to pick up a passenger for any reason at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The penalty for a second refusal is a two-year license suspension. Cabbies have a right to appeal a suspension, with the penalty stayed until an administrative hearing officer issues a decision.

Nine men who own or operate taxis at the airport had appealed a district judge's refusal to issue a temporary injunction blocking the commission from imposing the penalties. The men said their religious beliefs prohibit them from carrying alcohol.

The Appeals Court ruling Tuesday upholds the lower court's decision. Both courts said that the respondents failed to show that they would suffer irreparable harm if a temporary injunction was not granted. Both courts also noted the appeal process that allows cabbies to keep working while their case is pending.

Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan said Tuesday that there have been only five refusals of service so far this year. All are in the appeals process, which can take several months to complete, he said. Between 2002 and 2007, there were nearly 5,000 refusals, he said.

There are almost 900 taxi drivers licensed to do business at the airport, Hogan said, and they provided more than 731,000 rides in the past year.

PAT PHEIFER

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