Glenn Reynolds, better known as Instapundit, gave the Institute for Justice high-praise in his most recent column for USA Today:
One group that I’ve admired for years is the Institute for Justice, a free-market public-interest law firm that works to protect people, mostly poor people, from the heavy hand of the state.
Writing that “we really need…more lawyers on the side of the good guys,” Reynolds focused on two of IJ’s biggest issues: civil forfeiture and occupational licensing:
The Institute for Justice has fought hard against civil forfeiture, which lets cops take your stuff without proving you committed a crime and then keep it for their own benefit…
The institute has fought this in court and has pushed legislation to limit such misbehavior at both state and federal levels.
In 2015, IJ successfully challenged the IRS’s seizure of more than $107,000 from Lyndon McLellan. In April 2016, IJ also helped reclaim $53,000 seized from the manager of a Burmese Christian rock band intended for a Thai orphanage and a school in Burma. Since 2014, 17 states have reformed their civil forfeiture laws, including New Mexico and Nebraska which both abolished civil forfeiture.
Another issue that IJ fights against is occupational licensing, which can pose a significant barrier to entrepreneurs of modest means.
“The folks at the institute have brought suit on behalf of florists, casket-making monks, cab and van drivers, independent tax preparers, African hair braiders and more,” Reynolds noted. In the past two years, nine states have done away with licensing laws for hair braiders, including five states this year alone. In 2014, IJ successfully defeated Washington, D.C., requirement that tour guides complete a mandatory test or face fines and 90 days in jail. In 2015, following six years of litigation, the Texas Supreme Court struck down a requirement that eyebrow threaders obtain an expensive and irrelevant cosmetology license.
As Reynolds said:
Economists and (a few) politicians have talked about the problem of excessive occupational licensing regulations for years, but the Institute for Justice is one of the few places to do anything about it. And they’re able to be effective because, well, they’re lawyers.
These are just the successes in two of IJ’s issue areas. Although new challenges are always on the horizon IJ remains poised to defeat them.