In The Permission Society, I argue that permit requirements--whether they be building permits, business permits, gun permits, whatever--are a dangerous way to regulate society, that give bureaucrats tremendous powers over our lives. I argue that, at a minimum, whenever the government requires us to get a permit for something or other, we should have three basic procedural safeguards:
- The criteria for getting the permit should be clear, not vaguely worded things like "good cause."
- There should be a specific deadline within which you'll get an answer to your permit application.
- There should be a real chance for judicial review--a day in court if the government wrongly denies you a permit.
These requirements were specified by the Supreme Court half a century ago, yet they're routinely ignored by government agencies that enforce vague permit criteria, delay and postpone their decisions, and require applicants to go through an administrative process instead of a real judicial hearing, which means that the rules of procedure and evidence that protect individual rights do not apply.
In the Goldwater Institute's latest policy report, "Permit Freedom," I suggest how we can implement these safeguards and protect citizens against the dangers of permit requirements. You can read it here.