Beacon Center of Tennessee Files Suit Over New Online Auctioneer Law


The Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee has filed suit against a new law that state legislators passed earlier this year that forces online auctioneers to get a state license.

This, according to a press release Beacon officials released Thursday.

The same press release said the state exempts big online auction sites, including Ebay.

Beacon is a free-market think tank.

“This law is not just unfair but is also unconstitutional, as it clearly violates the First Amendment,” Beacon spokesman Mark Cunningham said in the release.

“Beacon is suing the Tennessee Auctioneer Commission before the law takes effect on July 1.”

In an emailed statement to The Star, Beacon Vice President of Legal Affairs Braden Boucek (pictured above) said the law is “a step in the wrong direction.”

“Tennessee is a state that values freedom and equal opportunity.  A barrier to work is out of step with what Tennesseans value, no matter how ‘in step’ it might be for auctioneers who want to try and debilitate the upstart,” Boucek said.

“As a state, we need to be committed to giving people access to good paying jobs, especially in rural counties.”

As The Star reported in April, online auctioneers will suffer, as will Tennessee’s economy, if state officials require them to get a license, Beacon officials said at the time.

Boucek said the clear majority of complaints about online auctioneering came from business competitors who don’t like having to compete with a new business model.

This, Boucek went on to say, artificially inflates prices of goods, all of which are passed on to the consumer.

Boucek linked to an Institute of Justice study that examined state and national estimates of the economic costs of occupational licensing.

The Institute for Justice is a Virginia-based and libertarian law firm that pursues civil liberties and other public interest cases, according to its website.

According to the study, more than 21 percent of Tennessee’s workforce is licensed.

“It costs us 46,068 jobs.  We lose $173 million in economic value lost, $4.5 billion in misallocated resources,” Boucek said in April.

“We could also see nearly a 16 percent increase in economic returns over what licensees would make if not for licensing.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photos “Braden Boucek” and “Online Shopping” by Beacon Center of Tennessee.





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4 Thoughts to “Beacon Center of Tennessee Files Suit Over New Online Auctioneer Law”

  1. […] The Star reported last year, Beacon filed suit against a law that state legislators passed last year that forces online […]

  2. Teresa Ide

    I am an Antique Mall Owner in Tennessee and I have City and County Business License. I sell 41 of my personal items on Facebook, on a Facebook auction. It is a huge traffic builder for my Store. People come to pick up their items and also go shopping. It is one of the reasons that we have kept open, during a hard economy. What is the difference in selling something online or in store. Thank you Beacon Center for looking out for first amendment rights.

  3. […] The Star reported last week, the Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee has filed suit against the law. Beacon officials […]

  4. Tom Miller

    I’m a real estate professional in Tennessee and licensed by the State. The Beacon Center’s rationale for opposing the licensing of auctioneers should also apply to me and any professional. In reality this law is actually a “consumer protection” law. It does not impose a significant barrier to entry, but does protect the public from unethical or incompetent practitioners. Let’s hope the courts realize this and rejects their suit.