As IJ closes out its 25th year, we are seeing our long-term strategy in key mission areas yield tangible results. At the same time, we are laying the groundwork for new challenges to government efforts to curtail individual liberty in the decades to come.
IJ has been focused on the pillars of our mission—economic liberty, private property rights, school choice and free speech—since we opened our doors. These are essential American freedoms, but they were woefully underprotected by courts and largely ignored by the media and politicians. Slowly, over the course of 25 years, we established a track record of success in each of these areas. In the process, we transformed the law and improved the lives of thousands.
We are now seeing the fruits of this long-term mission. One of IJ’s first targets was to take on what were then viewed as hopelessly entrenched taxi monopolies that existed in cities throughout the country. We first opened up Denver’s transportation market and then built on that victory to take on similar monopolies in other cities. Taxi cartels fought us every step of the way. But the tide started to turn, and cities began to open their transportation markets to new companies, by choice or by court order after an IJ victory. Though we could not have foreseen the role technology would play in upending transportation today, IJ’s cutting-edge work to remove legal barriers to entry in this industry laid the groundwork for the competition new companies like Uber and Lyft now provide. Desperately trying to hold on to their monopoly profits, the cartels responded by filing lawsuits against cities that sought to push aside outdated protectionist transportation regulations.
As detailed on the front cover, IJ struck a pair of blows for transportation freedom when the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ringing endorsement of the free-market principles IJ has advanced for decades and a stinging indictment of the economic protectionism promoted by the taxi cartels. This ruling is a vindication of our long-term, strategic and incremental approach, and we will build on these cases and dozens of other IJ victories like them in the years to come.
We are also steadfastly committed to uncovering and exposing new methods that governments use to curtail our liberties. For instance, IJ’s work to end civil forfeiture led to our discovery of similar systems that dangerously shift law enforcement away from the impartial administration of justice and instead toward the shakedown of citizens. Our path-breaking class action lawsuit in Pagedale, Missouri, challenging taxation by citation, is one example and, in this issue, we explain our new lawsuit against New York City’s unconstitutional “no-fault” eviction program.
Though we win nearly three out of four cases we file, we still do face losses and setbacks. But our long-term success is possible because we never give up. In a prime example, over the past two decades, IJ has made enormous progress on eliminating the abuse of eminent domain for private development.
After the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its abominable decision in Kelo v. City of New London, we took what was a setback in court and drove the backlash to the decision, which significantly curtailed the efforts of city councils and their accomplices in the private sector to grab land from home and small-business owners. Our post-Kelo strategy demonstrates that even when the Supreme Court goes in the wrong direction, IJ is nimble and strategic enough to pursue other methods to advance our mission. Now, over a decade after the decision and with the partial upswing in the commercial real estate market, we are starting to see eminent domain abuse rear its corrupt head once again. So IJ has to be there and will be there to stop these abuses.
In the years to come, we will stay focused on our mission while always remaining on the cutting edge of the issues we take on and the strategies we employ, because we know that governments at all levels—federal, state and local—are always seeking new ways to grab power at the expense of liberty.
Amidst this desultory election year, IJ remains a sound, long-term investment in freedom that yields real-world results. In fact, we just learned that IJ remains in the top 1 percent of charities nationwide as rated by Charity Navigator for fiscal health, accountability and transparency. You can always count on IJ to be there to represent brave individuals who are willing to give new life to the guarantees set forth in the U.S. Constitution.