“The story of the Fourteenth Amendment is one of the most dramatic stories in American constitutional history. The amendment was born of political desperation. It almost caused a second Civil War. And it was only passed after the impeachment of an American president.” -Kurt Lash, University of Richmond School of Law REGISTER NOW Ratified 150 years ago,…
Government demands copies of books, threatens thousands in fines, offers nothing in return
Richmond, Va.—The U.S. Copyright Office is demanding copies of hundreds of books published by a small Richmond publisher, Valancourt Books. If Valancourt doesn’t send the books, they could be subject to six figures in fines. But there’s a problem: Valancourt doesn’t have the books. They are a print-on-demand publisher, and giving the federal government free…
College employment program bars religious employers from hiring students for on-the-job training
Like other schools in Washington state, Summit Christian Academy, a K-12 private school in Spokane, would like to hire college students as tutors under the state’s Work-Study Program. But because Summit is a religious school, it is barred by the government from doing so, even if those students would be tutoring in subjects such as…
San Juan, Puerto Rico—Today, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court rejected a teachers’ union’s challenge to the Free School Selection Program, and declared the program constitutional. As a result, up to 10,000 Puerto Rican families will be able to apply for government scholarships to send their children to the private or public schools of their choice.…
San Juan, Puerto Rico—Hoy el Tribunal Supremo rechazó el desafió de un sindicato de maestros contra el Programa de Libre Selección de Escuelas y declaró que el programa es constitucional. Como resultado de ello, hasta 10.000 familias puertorriqueñas podrán solicitar becas del gobierno para enviar a sus hijos la escuela pública o privada de su…
Un nuevo informe categoriza las leyes de Puerto Rico como las peores en los E.E.U.U.
Arlington, Va.– Las leyes de expropiación forzosa de Puerto Rico recibieron una calificación de F en un reporte publicado hoy por el Institute for Justice, una organización sin fines de lucro y firma legal de libertades civiles dedicada a erradicar la expropiación (o el “dominio eminente” como se conoce en los Estados Unidos) de manera…
In the aftermath of hurricane María, new report warns of potential government abuse
Arlington, Va.– Puerto Rico’s eminent domain laws received a grade of “F” in a report released today by the Institute for Justice (IJ), a nonprofit, civil liberties law firm dedicated to ending eminent domain abuse: when the government seizes private property not for traditional public uses, but for private development. The report examines Puerto Rico’s…
Martha is a stay-at-home mom with two sons, a 5-year old and a 2-year old. She has baked her whole life and is professionally trained. Martha is Brazilian and lived in Brazil for 25 years, and she would like to start a home business focusing on Brazilian-inspired cookies.
Elijah “Lij” Shaw is a single father and lifelong record producer and recorded nationally renowned, Grammy Award-winning performers like Adele, John Oates, Jack White and Wilco. After his daughter was born, Lij decided to convert his garage into a soundproofed recording studio, which he used without any complaints for over a decade. But now Nashville is threatening to destroy Lij’s investment and uproot him from his neighborhood.
Kriss Marion is the founder of her local farmers’ market in Blanchardville, Wisconsin. But under the state’s ban on selling home-baked goods, Kriss must instead give her extra baked goods away or feed them to her pigs and chickens.
Teresa Quinones, of Lawrenceville, Ga., is a mother of three young children. Her two oldest children, Audri and Christopher, attend Notre Dame Academy, thanks to Georgia’s Scholarship Tax-Credit Program.
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.
Jason and Jacki have owned their property in Golden Valley, a suburb of Minneapolis, for decades. But the city hasn’t respected their tenants’ wishes and instead has tried to obtain unconstitutional “administrative” warrants to force its way inside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
IJ client Jane Astramecki, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, runs a home baking business. But Minnesota’s restrictive cottage food law bans her from earning more than $5,000 a year and from selling her treats at venues other than farmers’ markets and community events.
Opternative is a Chicago-based internet startup that offers consumers a simple promise: Get a new prescription for glasses or contacts from the comfort of your own home. In most states, Opternative’s technology allows doctors to provide faster and better service to more people—but not in South Carolina.
In May 2014, Philadelphia police showed up unannounced at Markela’s home and tried to seize the home through civil forfeiture because her son had been caught selling a small amount of drugs outside the home. After a year of uncertainty, the city agreed to stop seizing people’s homes without warning and forcing people to give up their constitutional rights and kick out family members. Even better—Markela’s son was allowed back home.
For decades, Isis Brantley has fought for her right to braid hair and to pass on her knowledge to others. She successfully sued the state of Texas after it attempted to force her to turn her braiding school into a barber college.
Lyndon McLellan has spent more than a decade running L&M Convenience Mart in rural North Carolina. Then, without any warning, agents from the IRS seized his entire bank account, totaling more than $107,000.
Aimee and Heath Hairr have five adopted children. Their oldest, Nolan, was floundering in his public school and endured intense bullying. The Hairrs just want Nolan to have a safe learning environment and for their other children to have the same.
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.
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.
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.
The owner and operator of the Pizza di Joey food truck, Joey is challenging Baltimore’s 300-foot rule because it threatens his lifelong dream of owning his own pizza business. He also believes that the city shouldn’t be limiting hungry Baltimoreans’ dining choices.
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.
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.
Florence and Derrick would like their children to attend a Catholic high school in Aurora, Colo. But paying tuition for both children to attend Regis would be a substantial financial burden, so scholarships by Douglas County’s school choice program would help defray costs.
Mary Lou Wesselhoeft and her husband Paul Wesselhoeft own Ocheesee Creamery, a small creamery in the Florida Panhandle. Because of the all-natural dairy philosophy that Mary Lou follows, she added nothing to the creamery’s skim milk. But a state agency wants her to use a confusing and misleading label that labels the milk something it is not: “Non-Grade ‘A’ Milk Product, Natural Milk Vitamins Removed.”
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.
Liz has seven children, three of whom have a severe tissue disorder called EDS which requires constant medical attention. Liz needs Nevada’s ESA so she can design a quality education for her youngest EDS child, Dallin, who will likely miss a lot of school in the future.
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.