San Juan, Puerto Rico—On Friday, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court agreed to immediately hear a case concerning the constitutionality of Puerto Rico’s new Free School Selection Program. The Program, passed into law in March, grants eligible families scholarships to send their child to the private or public school of their choice. The Court of the…
San Juan, Puerto Rico—El viernes pasado, el Tribunal Supremo de Puerto Rico expidió un auto urgente y anunció que el Tribunal determinará la constitucionalidad del Programa de Libre Selección de Escuelas en Puerto Rico. El programa, aprobado en marzo, otorga becas a familias necesitadas para enviar a sus hijos a la escuela privada o pública…
Startup Files Countersuit After Licensing Board Sues to Shut It Down for Drawing Maps Over Satellite Photos
Arlington, Va. — Should you need a license to use public information to draw lines on satellite photos? That is what the Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors argued when they sued Vizaline, LLC, and co-founder Brent Melton for “unlicensed surveying” and sought to stop the company from operating and to have…
Today, after a group of lactation counselors filed a lawsuit on Monday, Georgia has agreed to halt enforcement of the state’s lactation consultant licensing law, pending the outcome of the suit. The law, which was set to go into effect on Sunday, July 1, threatened fines of upwards of $500 per day for practicing lactation…
IJ Senior Attorney Robert McNamara testified on June 21 before the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, highlighting the costs of occupational licensing and the lessons learned in IJ’s decades-long battle to defend economic liberty against overreaching government officials.
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a major ruling, concluding that “professional speech” is not exempt from the protection of the First Amendment. The opinion handed down in NIFLA v. Becerra will have major implications for current and future Institute for Justice cases. First, a quick summary. The case dealt with perhaps the most contentious…
After working in the food service industry for several years, Troy King purchased his first food truck in 2014—a gourmet chicken food truck called Pollo. But in September 2016, Troy was operating Pollo in downtown Louisville when a city inspector threatened to issue a citation and tow his truck simply because Troy was serving customers within 150 feet a restaurant that also serves chicken. Troy was forced to abandon his vending location and his customers.
Mats Järlström is a Swedish-born electronics engineer and has the equivalent of a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. After his wife received a ticket based on a red-light camera in Beaverton, Oregon, Mats began criticizing the math behind red-light cameras. But Oregon’s engineer-licensing board considered Mats’ traffic-light critiques to be the unlicensed practice of engineering and fined him $500.
Michael Peticolas owns Peticolas Brewing, located in an industrial neighborhood near downtown Dallas. In 2013, Texas passed a law that prohibits brewers from negotiating with distributors for the value of their territorial rights. Instead, the law forces brewers to give those rights away for free. That jeopardizes his plans to expand into other parts of Texas.
Esteban Narez, 26, grew up in Watsonville, California with his mother and two sisters. Esteban withdrew from high school his senior year due to a major injury. He hasn’t been able to get a GED because the medical bills and his family’s finances have forced him to work full-time ever since. Esteban wants to train as a farrier, but California won’t let him.
In 2011, police raided Jameelah El-Shabazz’s apartment in New York City and found several cups filled with crushed eggshells, which Jameelah uses for religious purposes. Believing the cups were filled with drugs, police arrested Jameelah and her son Akin and held them in jail for a week. They also had her apartment closed . City attorneys, relying on those same discredited allegations about the cups of crushed eggshells, claimed the apartment had been the site of drug crimes, and had her apartment closed under the city’s no-fault eviction ordinance. Unable to fight back in court, Jameelah had to agree to permanently bar her son from her home in order to regain access to her own apartment.
Hilda Brucker was sitting at home one day working her job as a freelance writer. The phone rang, she answered, and was told by a hostile voice that if she didn’t come down to the courthouse at once she would be given a failure to appear violation. She hastily complied. When she got there, she found out that the city had issued a citation, although it had never told her about it. She later learned the citation stated she was charged with (1) “Rotted wood on house and chipping paint on fascia boards”; (2) “High weeds in backyard and ivy on tree and vines on house”; and (3) “Driveway in a state of disrepair.” Not knowing what to do, Hilda pled guilty to the driveway charge, while the other two were dismissed. She paid a fine of $100 and was sentenced to six months probation, where she had to report to a probation officer, avoid alcoholic intoxication, and cooperate “with code enforcement upon request.” She later hired an attorney who filed a motion to vacate her sentence, but the motion was continued several times, eventually being granted only after her six-month probation would have already ended. She also obtained a home equity line of credit in case she needed to pay for any of the fixes that the city nebulously demanded.
Gerardo Serrano owns a Ford F-250 pickup that was seized by Customs and Border Protection for civil forfeiture in September 2015. CBP seized the truck because they found five bullets in the center console, claiming they were “munitions of war.” After almost two years without a judge hearing his case, Gerardo joined with the Institute for Justice in September 2017 to file a lawsuit to get his truck back. Gerardo also filed suit on behalf of all U.S. citizens who have had vehicles seized by CBP, seeking an order requiring the agency to provide a prompt hearing whenever they take vehicles for civil forfeiture.
Khalid (“Ken”) Quran moved to America in 1997, and now runs a convenience store in Greenville, N.C. But the government seized his entire bank account—more than $150,000—even though he was never charged with a crime.
Bob Smith has been professionally shoeing horses since 1974 and founded Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School (PCHS) in Plymouth, California to pass his skills on to another generation of farriers. But California threatened to shut him down, because Bob was admitting students to his horseshoeing school who hadn’t first graduated from high school or passed an equivalent government-approved exam.
Vocatura’s Bakery was founded in 1919, almost one hundred years ago, and has been owned and operated by three generations of the Vocatura family. Claiming the owners violated so-called “structuring” laws by depositing cash in the bakery’s bank account in amounts less than $10,000, the IRS seized more than $68,000 from the family.
Robert Martin operates the Red’s Comfort Foods food truck and offers specialty gourmet hot dogs and sausages in Louisville, Kentucky. The city’s 150-foot ban makes it difficult for Robert to operate his Red’s Comfort Foods food truck in Louisville because the law creates no-vending zones that extend 150 feet around every restaurant, café and eating establishment in the city. In fact, Robert was even cited in 2015 for vending downtown within 150 feet of a restaurant.
Panna Shah came to the United States from India in 2006 in search of a better life. She has been threading for more than 30 years but would be unable to thread full-time because she can’t afford to complete Louisiana’s irrelevant training requirements.
Samantha Harris hired Sally Ladd, a New Jersey-based entrepreneur, to manager her short-term vacation rental in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. But when Pennsylvania wanted Ladd to obtain a real-estate broker’s license, which requires her to spend three years working for an established broker, Sally felt forced to shut down her business.
Rett owns Revolver Brewing, south of Fort Worth. He is fighting a Texas law that forces brewers to give up their distribution rights to distributors for free. Even worse, distributors can then sell those rights to other distributors and pocket the money.
Inspired by France’s wine-growing regions, Nan Bailly’s father started Alexis Bailly Vineyard, Minnesota’s oldest operating farm winery, in 1973. Nan has continued her father’s legacy, making Minnesota wines with her vineyard’s grapes and other locally-sourced ingredients. She would like the freedom to offer new and greater varieties of blended wine to the public without worrying about an arbitrary limit on how many of her grapes crossed Minnesota’s border.
Lisa Kivirist is a mother, farmer, business owner and avid baker. Lisa typically serves muffins and other baked goods at her B&B for breakfast, but the baked-good ban prohibits her from selling these same exact goods to guests.
Ushaben used to thread part-time at the Threading Studio & Spa near New Orleans, often filling in for licensed estheticians when they were unable to work. But after state regulators ordered the business to terminate its unlicensed threaders, Ushaben is no longer permitted to thread in the studio.
Korver Ear Nose and Throat LLC owns a recently constructed medical facility in Orange City, Iowa. It would like to convert the lower level of this facility into an outpatient surgery center, but does not want to incur the enormous time, expense, and uncertainty of going through the certificate of need process, only to be denied because of its competitor’s opposition.
Charles Clarke is a college student, who spent over 5 years to save up $11,000—only to have it seized by law enforcement officials before he was scheduled to board a flight at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport.
Achan works in fear that Iowa will punish her for providing her services without a license. If she could braid without a license, she would reopen her salon, grow her business and better provide for her family.
The Cristofaros were plaintiffs in the infamous Kelo v. New London lawsuit, when the city tried to take their house again. Since the ruling, Mike has become a national spokesperson for property owners fighting eminent domain abuse.
Norys Hernandez co-owns a home in North Philadelphia with her sister, who resides there. Norys has never been in trouble with the law. But her home was seized after her nephew was caught selling a small amount of drugs outside the home.
Susette is the Kelo in Kelo v. New London. She led her neighbors in a seven-year battle to save their homes from being taken by the government for private development, culminating in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2005.
In March 2017, Phil Parhamovich, a musician from Madison, Wisconsin, was pulled over by the Wyoming Highway Patrol and pressured into signing a pre-printed waiver that stated he was “giving” his $91,800 in cash to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.
Fortunately, after the Institute for Justice took his case, law enforcement returned all of the cash they had wrongfully taken from Phil.