After police had a ten-hour standoff with an empty house—eventually destroying everything inside—a court ruled there wasn’t anything they could do about it. Now the Institute for Justice is launching a new project to ask the courts to reexamine doctrines giving government officials broad immunity from accountability
If you tell police they can go into your home, does that mean they can also legally stand outside and pepper it with shotgun-fired tear gas grenades—destroying everything inside? That is the question asked by a petition to the Supreme Court of the United States filed today by the Institute for Justice (IJ) on behalf…
DEA seized more than $82,000 from retiree’s daughter as she traveled through the Pittsburgh airport
PITTSBURGH—Terry Rolin’s life savings of $82,373 were seized by the federal government even though he has not been charged with any crime. In fact, his daughter was doing something completely legal—flying domestically with cash—when the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized the money in August 2019 at the Pittsburgh International Airport. Today, Terry and his daughter…
Pottstown Renters Score Major Win In Challenge To Unconstitutional Rental Inspections
Pottstown, Penn.—This morning, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion vacating and remanding a lower court’s ruling in favor of Pottstown in a lawsuit challenging the borough’s rental inspection ordinance. This law allows the borough to enter residents’ homes without cause and without the residents’ consent. The Court also reversed the trial court’s orders…
The New Jersey Assembly unanimously passed a bill late Monday that would shine a light on “civil forfeiture,” which lets law enforcement seize property without ever charging the owner with a crime. In New Jersey, once property is forfeited, the government can then keep up to 100% of the proceeds, creating a perverse incentive to…
PHILADELPHIA—Today, a three-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania denied the Cosmetology Board’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two Philadelphia-area women who want to end an unconstitutional requirement that stands in the way of their careers. The Board used Courtney Haveman’s and Amanda Spillane’s past legal problems to deny them the right…
Lawsuit maintaining that the Legislature ignored the state’s Constitution to reduce support for educational choice will proceed
Las Vegas, Nev.—Today, Clark County District Court Judge Rob Bare handed Nevada families a first-round win in their constitutional challenge to a 2019 law that eliminated the automatic annual increase in the amount of tax credits available for donors to the Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program. Attorneys for the state were seeking to dismiss the…
Institute for Justice Partners with Engineer to Challenge Law Requiring Engineers to Obtain License to Call Themselves Engineers or to Be Entrepreneurs
From satellites in space to circuits for flashlights, Greg Mills has spent his entire career working as an engineer designing and building electronics. But earlier this year, a group of industry insiders sitting on a government board abruptly put Greg’s career on ice. Now he’s fighting back. Greg’s resume reads like a veritable who’s-who of…
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.
Spencer Byrd, a Chicago resident and part-time auto mechanic, who had his car impounded after he gave a client ride who got arrested for drugs. A Cook County Circuit Court judge ordered that his car be returned, but Chicago will not release Spencer’s car until he pays all of the towing and storage fees—more than $17,000.
Kevin is one of the owners of White Cottage Red Door in Door County, Wisconsin. When the small business opened a food truck in its parking lot, the Town of Gibraltar’s board, chaired by a local restaurant owner, promptly banned all mobile businesses.
At 16, Ashley began braiding hair for money and now manages the Afro Touch salon in Louisiana. Although there is no shortage of capable braiders, they are all unlicensed, and the Board’s licensing requirements prevent Ashley from hiring unlicensed braiders.
Dr. Gajendra Singh opened Forsyth Imaging Center in 2017 to provide X-rays, ultrasounds, MRI scans, and other services at affordable prices. But Dr. Singh is stymied by North Carolina’s “certificate of need” laws.
Troy and Angela Nelson operate a small family farm in Palermo, Maine. They have two children, Alicia, who attends a nonreligious school, and Royce, who attends Temple Academy, a private, Christian school. Palermo won’t pay for Royce’s tuition, simply because he attends a religious school, even though its pays tuition for Alicia.
In September 2015, Tammy Holland took out two ads in her local Colorado newspaper to alert readers to upcoming school-board elections. For that simple act of civic engagement, Tammy was sued—twice—by incumbent school board members who didn’t appreciate the publicity. Tammy teamed up with IJ to challenge Colorado’s abuse-prone system of enforcing private campaign-finance complaints. In June 2018, a federal court sided with Tammy and declared Colorado’s system unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
Linda Cameron has been living in the same Richland, Washington home for nearly 40 years. After consulting with a builder, Linda decided to turn her outdated carport into a garage and add a second bedroom and bathroom. But Richland won’t give her a building permit unless she pays over $60,000 in “impact fees.”
Chris and Markela Sourovelis worked their whole lives to build a home for their family. Officials in Philadelphia then tried to use civil forfeiture to take it all away, even though Chris and Markela did nothing wrong.
Scott Fisher runs a video game store in Orange Park, Florida, just outside Jacksonville. To boost foot traffic and visibility for his business, he set up a giant inflatable Mario, only to run afoul of the town’s sign code. Scott has joined with the Institute for Justice to defend his First Amendment rights.
Brothers Jeffrey, Richard and Mitch Hirsch owned Bi-County Distributors Inc., a small distribution business in Long Island, N.Y. The IRS used a legal process called civil forfeiture to seize their entire bank account—more than $446,000—even though they had done nothing wrong. After the brothers filed a lawsuit, the IRS returned their hard-earned cash.
Dr. Mark Baumel, of Colon Health Centers for America, wants to increase the rate of screening for colon cancers. But when Dr. Baumel and his partners sought Virginia’s permission to buy new CT scanners, it denied them a “certificate of need.”
Carter Walker is a reporter covering the county government for the Lancaster, Pennsylvania newspaper. To shine a light on forfeiture spending by the Lancaster County DA, he filed a request, which was denied. Carter appealed to Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records and won, but now the DA is fighting in court to keep this information secret.
For more than 30 years, Hinga Mbogo has been fixing the cars of Dallas residents at his shop on Ross Avenue. But the city is trying to shut him down by using an oppressive and little-known zoning process called “amortization.”
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.
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.
Jim Ficken is a 69-year-old retiree living in a modest two-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Dunedin, Florida. For letting his lawn grow too long, Jim faces nearly $29,000 in fines and has been threatened with foreclosure.
John Heiderich and Gwendolyn Lee, have owned and operated rental properties in Seattle for more than forty years. They are unwilling to let the city intrude into their tenant’s home and are committed to helping their tenant protect her constitutional rights.
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.
After eight years of working as a driver for Yellow Cab, Ken Leininger decided to start his own business. But when Ken tried to get permits for his new business early last year, Little Rock denied his applications.
Next Chapter Winery is a family-run winery in New Prague, Minnesota built by Timothy and Therese Tulloch. To grow Next Chapter’s business, they would like to offer more varieties of wine, which would require using more grapes from other regions.
Bonnie Ybarra was able to obtain program scholarships for two of her three elementary school-aged girls to attend private school, with her youngest daughter set to join them this year. But absent an infusion of scholarship funds into Nevada’s program, Ybarra’s girls face a return to the public-school system that previously failed to meet their educational needs.
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.
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.
Alan and Judy Gillis live in Orrington, Maine and send their youngest daughter, Isabella, currently a junior to Bangor Christian Schools. But because Alan and Judy have chosen a religious school for their daughter, Maine prohibits the town from paying Isabella’s tuition to Bangor Christian Schools.
Sage Lewis pioneered an innovative community for the homeless on his commercial property at 15 Broad Street in Akron, Ohio. His nonprofit, The Homeless Charity, provides tents, food, showers, computers, and other resources to 44 residents. But Akron is trying to eliminate his work through the city’s zoning code.
Corban Addison Klug (writing under the pen name “Corban Addison”) has published four novels and works out of his home in Charlottesville, Virginia. But Charlottesville and Albemarle County require a business license to write novels, and they have assessed thousands of dollars in back taxes against Corban and other hardworking freelance writers.
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.
A registered nurse and grandmother from Katy, Texas, Anthonia had over $40,000 in cash seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. She was heading to Nigeria and planned to use the money to help family and to built a new medical clinic. Anthonia is now the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against CBP’s policies of seizing cash and demanding owners waive away their constitutional rights to recover their money.
IJ client Cynthia Perry wants to send her daughter, Faith, to a private school in North Carolina, but she cannot afford the tuition on her own. She needs the financial lifeline of an Opportunity Scholarship.