IJ Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Hold State/Federal Task Forces Accountable For Constitutional Violations
Arlington, Virginia—In 2014, James King was a law-abiding college student who was brutally beaten and choked unconscious by members of a joint state/federal police task force after they misidentified him as a suspect sought in connection with a non-violent petty crime. Ever since that day, the government has used every tool at its disposal to…
Arlington, Va.—In a major win for free speech, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that occupational licensing is not a First Amendment-free zone. The court ruled that a Mississippi technology startup, Vizaline LLP, can go forward with its free speech challenge to a licensing law that a Mississippi regulatory board is attempting…
Amicus brief asks that government officials be held accountable for violating constitutional rights
Arlington, Va.—Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether officials from the FBI and other government agencies can be held accountable for violating Americans’ constitutional rights. If the Supreme Court decides they cannot be, it will send a clear message to the FBI and other government agencies that they can trample on constitutional rights…
Today, a federal judge in the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) policy of silencing anyone who settles an enforcement actions with the agency. The lawsuit was brought by the Institute for Justice (IJ) on behalf of the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank that contends…
Arlington, Va.—Today, a group of parents partnered with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to defend the Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program, an educational choice initiative, against a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. By formally intervening in the lawsuit, the parents will ensure that the thousands of Tennessee families benefiting from the program are represented as…
Legal attack attempts to end Tennessee’s Education Savings Accounts for K-12
Arlington, Va.—Today, the Institute for Justice (IJ) announced they will intervene to defend the nation’s newest educational choice program from a legal attack announced this morning by Nashville Mayor John Cooper. The mayor announced a lawsuit brought by the Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Shelby County and Metro Nashville Board of Public Education,…
Case seeks to overturn dangerous precedent enabling Detroit to systematically seize cars from innocent owners and then ransom them back for hundreds or thousands of dollars
For decades, Detroit police, sheriff’s deputies, and Wayne County prosecutors have systematically abused the constitutional rights of drivers by using a controversial tactic called civil forfeiture to seize and sell thousands of cars—oftentimes from completely innocent owners. Now, the Institute for Justice (IJ)—a nonprofit, public interest law firm—has partnered with a group of Detroit drivers…
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.
Ushaben used to thread part-time at the Threading Studio & Spa near New Orleans, often filling in for licensed estheticians when they were unable to work. But after state regulators ordered the business to terminate its unlicensed threaders, Ushaben is no longer permitted to thread in the studio.
Mary is a certified lactation consultation with nearly three decades of experience, including teaching at Emory and Morehouse. But thanks to a new license in Georgia, Mary can no longer work in her current position helping women and children with hands-on breastfeeding advice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ash Patel moved to Texas from India to pursue his American Dream of opening up an eyebrow threading salon. But in 2009, Texas demanded that eyebrow threaders obtain an expensive cosmetology license—even though beauty schools teach absolutely nothing about eyebrow threading. Ash shut down his successful business to avoid paying $2,000 in fines. He teamed up with the Institute for Justice to vindicate his rights. Six years later, IJ scored one of its most important economic liberty victories when the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state had violated the Texas Constitution by ordering threaders to obtain 750 hours of conventional cosmetology training. Threaders all over Texas are now free to work without having to obtain a government-issued license.
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.
In May 2018, Jerome Davis and Veronica Walker-Davis took their family car to a repair shop. But a shop employee took their car on a joyride, police arrested them for driving on a revoked license, and impounded the car. When Veronica and Jerome went to get their car, they were told that it was gone. The city had already disposed of it; either selling it, scrapping it, or keeping it for police use.
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.
Terry Dehko and his family have owned and operated the Schott’s Market in Fraser, Mich., for 35 years. The Dehkos had $35,000 taken from them by federal law enforcement officials through a process known as civil forfeiture.
Josefina Lozano immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico as a child and has run her own real estate investing business since 1984. She purchased two multi-family properties in Zion, Illinois and has been renting them out for decades. Josefina is unwilling to make her tenants give up their constitutional rights, even though the city government is threatening massive fines.
The Cristofaros were plaintiffs in the infamous Kelo v. New London lawsuit, when the city tried to take their house again. Since the ruling, Mike has become a national spokesperson for property owners fighting eminent domain abuse.
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.
Wendy trained as a makeup artist in Hollywood and has over 20 years of experience working with celebrities. But in Nevada, teaching others how to apply makeup without a government-issued license can subject you to up to $2,000 in fines.
IJ client Celeste Kelly spent hundreds of hours learning about horses in order to obtain private certifications in animal massage. But now the state of Arizona is forcing her to become a licensed veterinarian to continue practicing her craft.
Kendra desperately wanted to send her children to Stillwater, but knew she could not afford the tuition on her salary. So she started working to raise tuition funds. She held two yard sales and auctioned off handmade quilts made by a generous donor. She also found additional work cleaning houses. Adding to the extra funds, Stillwater provided the family with partial financial aid, and the girls began school there in September 2015.
Mats Järlström is a Swedish-born electronics engineer and has the equivalent of a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. After his wife received a ticket based on a red-light camera in Beaverton, Oregon, Mats began criticizing the math behind red-light cameras. But Oregon’s engineer-licensing board considered Mats’ traffic-light critiques to be the unlicensed practice of engineering and fined him $500.
Kim Billups turned her lifelong passion for history into a fun tourism business called Charleston Belle Tours, where Kim could give in-character tours of the major sites in Charleston, SC in full period regalia.
Growing up in the Ivory Coast, Lynn Schofield learned to braid from her family. When Lynn moved to Louisiana, she opened her own braiding salon that once had more than 20 employees. But that all changed in 2003, when the Board began requiring braiders to obtain a license.
In March 2017, Phil Parhamovich, a musician from Madison, Wisconsin, was pulled over by the Wyoming Highway Patrol and pressured into signing a pre-printed waiver that stated he was “giving” his $91,800 in cash to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.
Fortunately, after the Institute for Justice took his case, law enforcement returned all of the cash they had wrongfully taken from Phil.
Dale Sorcher has cared for infants and toddlers at a Jewish day care on and off since 1996 and holds two masters degrees, one in social work and one in expressive therapy. Unfortunately, under a new regulation in the District of Columbia, her experience does not qualify her to keep her job.
When John tried to expand his cab business to Bowling Green, he was stymied by a city law that limited the number of taxis allowed in the city to only 16. Less than two months after he filed a lawsuit, Bowling Green repealed the cap.
The bluffs overlooking the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, have for centuries been “a region noted for the grandeur and beauty of its landscape scenery.” Those same qualities attracted Gary and Michelle Erb in 2008. The Erbs purchased a 72-acre tract of land, about a mile east of the Susquehanna, and built their dream home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
John Hart is a New York Times bestselling author who has won several awards for his character-driven, literary thrillers. A former defense attorney and stockbroker, John lives on a farm in Virginia where he writes full-time. 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.
Heather is a single mother of a 14-year-old son. After bringing in baked goods to her son’s school for fundraisers and to his football team, Heather started getting many requests to sell them. But then Heather learned that selling her goods from home was illegal. Heather wants very much to be able to resume selling her delicious goods so she can use the money to support her son.