Economic Liberty

The Institute for Justice Files Lawsuits Nationwide to Defend Honest Enterprise

Economic liberty—the right to earn a living in the occupation of your choice without unnecessary government interference—is at the heart of the American Dream. Unfortunately, all too many entrepreneurs find that this dream is under constant attack by unreasonable licensing, permitting and other requirements that stand in the way of honest competition. The mission of IJ’s economic liberty practice is to remove these barriers by persuading state and federal judges to take entrepreneurs’ constitutional rights seriously.

  • By the end of 2015, we scored a landmark victory at the Texas Supreme Court, freed hair braiders, cab drivers, home bakers, tour guides and food truck owners from burdensome regulations and launched five new cases to vindicate the right to economic liberty.
  • IJ has filed more than 80 economic liberty cases since we opened our doors in 1991. We have won the vast majority of these cases, through either courtroom victories or legislative changes sparked by our lawsuits.
  • IJ has won economic liberty cases at every judicial level, including the U.S. Supreme Court, state supreme courts, and state and federal trial courts across the country.

In 2013, the Los Angeles Times pointed to “a growing trend of successful ‘economic liberty’ cases championed by the Institute for Justice.” These victories have vindicated the rights of thousands of different entrepreneurs in careers as varied as hair braiding, taxi driving and wine making. Regardless of the occupation, the rule of law IJ seeks is the same.

Through strategic litigation, research and public advocacy, IJ demonstrates not only that economic liberty is morally and practically important but that the right to economic liberty has a genuine basis in the text, history and original public meaning of the U.S. Constitution and should be rigorously enforced in our nation’s courts.

In addition to IJ’s litigation efforts, our attorneys and strategic research team continue to publish a wide variety of reports on issues relating to economic liberty. These reports have measured the scope and scale of occupational licensing barriers to entrepreneurship, examined the justifications for local and state restrictions on entrepreneurship, and even documented how private interests manage to strategically use the power of government to squelch competition.  Academics and journalists across the country have cited these studies, helping to drive the public debate on the importance of economic liberty.

Through strategic litigation, research and public advocacy, IJ demonstrates not only that economic liberty is morally and practically important but that the right to economic liberty has a genuine basis in the text, history and original public meaning of the U.S. Constitution and should be rigorously enforced in our nation’s courts. The precedents we set through our work and the victories we achieve have already paved and will continue to pave the way for thousands of hard-working men and women to enter the workforce and provide for themselves and their families through honest enterprise.

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Recent Economic Liberty Cases

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Economic Liberty Research

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