Arlington, Va.—Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) reintroduced the Ending Qualified Immunity Act today, a bill that would make it much easier for individuals to sue government employees who violate their constitutional rights. The Institute for Justice is proud to endorse this bill as an important and long overdue solution for fixing the problem with government accountability that…
Student Assaulted by Law Enforcement Officers Will Have Key Part of Case Heard by Federal Appeals Court
Arlington, Virginia—Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Brownback v. King, a police brutality case involving an innocent college student, James King, who was brutally beaten in an unprovoked assault by members of a state-federal task force. On first glance, many presumed yesterday’s opinion ended James King’s legal quest to hold the officers…
Arlington, Virginia—In an appeal filed on February 18, the Institute for Justice is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to examine the question of whether federal judges have unfettered discretion to unilaterally inject their own arguments or legal theories into cases where state action is challenged and reaffirm that the federal courts cannot act as advocates…
Decision strikes down Washington’s zero-tolerance drug law, which made even accidental possession, a felony
Today, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the state cannot make innocent conduct illegal. In doing so, it struck down Washington’s felony drug possession statute, RCW 69.50.4013, because it criminalizes any and all drug possession, even when the person unknowingly possesses an illegal drug. The case is State v. Blake, No. 96873-0. The case concerned…
Arlington, Virginia—Today, in a case involving a college student beaten by law enforcement officers in an unprovoked attack, the U.S. Supreme Court refused the government’s request to create a new kind of immunity for the officers. Instead, it sent the case against the officers back to a federal appeals court to decide whether claims brought in…
Legal challenge asks Florida courts to rule that sky-high fines for minor violations violate the state constitution
West Palm Beach, Fla.—The town of Lantana has practically robbed Sandy Martinez of the value of her home through excessive fines, mostly as a result of the way she parks her own cars in her own driveway. One parking violation, assessed daily for over a year, totals more than $100,000. The total amount the town…
Lincoln, Neb.—The city of Lincoln has amended the cottage food ordinance that last year prompted a lawsuit by the Institute for Justice (IJ) and home baker Cindy Harper, in partnership with Husch Blackwell LLP. In 2019, Cindy helped convince state lawmakers to adopt LB 304, which reformed Nebraska’s regulations for the home-based sale of shelf-stable…
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.
Flor Morency is the mother of twin children, a boy and a girl, who have received scholarships through Nevada’s program. But in July, Morency was told that her children could no longer receive a scholarship because a new state law made it statistically impossible to grant scholarships to all renewing students.
Sally Ladd is a New Jersey-based entrepreneur who provides short-term vacation property management services in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. But after Pennsylvania wanted her 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 2014, James King, a 21-year-old college student at the time, was walking between his two summer internships in Grand Rapids. James had no idea his life was about to change when he came upon two men leaning against a black SUV. They were dressed in scruffy street clothes.
Michele Simon is the executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association, a trade group representing the nation’s leading plant-based foods companies. At the behest of the meat lobby, Mississippi banned food companies making plant-based meat alternatives from using any meat product terms on their labels, a law that harms the Association’s members.
Lata has been threading since she was a teenager in India and saw a need for threading services in the New Orleans metropolitan area. But in June 2016, state regulators fined her business for employing unlicensed threaders, and ordered Lata to fire her unlicensed employees.
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.
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.
Norys Hernandez co-owns a home in North Philadelphia with her sister, who resides there. Norys has never been in trouble with the law. But her home was seized after her nephew was caught selling a small amount of drugs outside the home.
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.
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.
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.
The Archdiocese of Newark is one of the largest in terms of population in the U.S., with nearly 1.3 million Catholics and 219 parishes. The Archdiocese is fighting a New Jersey law that makes it a crime to sell monuments, such as headstones, to their parishioners.
Courtney wanted to become an esthetician so she could earn extra income and have flexible hours to spend with her son. But the state cosmetology board denied Courtney a license because of her criminal record, which has nothing to do with cosmetology.
August “Augie” Kersten is a co-owner of the Lonesome Dove saloon in Mandan, North Dakota. He started the Lonesome Dove 28 years ago with Brian Berube. The two commissioned a mural for the front of their saloon, which triggered a notice of violation from Mandan, which chided Augie and Brian for displaying art on their own property without first getting the city’s OK.
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.
Byron Billingsley was cited by police in Doraville, Georgia for going around a truck traveling at 5 mph—with no other traffic around—without using his turn signal. After hiring a lawyer to defend himself he paid $100. He has to keep driving through Doraville as he works in the city.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After being in prison for two years, when Amanda got out, she became passionate about cosmetology and even got a job offer at a salon before she finished school. But the state board denied her a cosmetology license, claiming she lacked “good moral character.”
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.
James Slatic is a consummate entrepreneur who has started more than ten businesses and has been active in the medical marijuana movement. Annette works as a radiology technician for the local Veterans Administration Hospital. Lily is a sophomore at San Jose State University and her sister Penny is in high school.
Dave and Amy Carson are residents of Glenburn, Maine and have sent their daughter, Olivia, now a sophomore, to Bangor Christian Schools. But because Olivia’s school is religious, Glenburn is prohibited from paying for Olivia’s tuition.
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.
Chip owns Live Oak Brewing, based in Austin, Texas. Established in 1997, Live Oak has been brewing craft beer long before its current surge in popularity. Now he is fighting a Texas law that forces craft brewers to give up millions of dollars of valuable property to politically connected beer distributors.
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.”
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.
Rebecca Brown was only in Pittsburgh for the weekend and the banks had already closed, so she decided to take her father’s money home with her in her carry-on bag and deposit it there. The money was seized from Rebecca when she tried to fly home to Boston from the Pittsburgh International Airport.
After completing his military service as an Army Ranger, Jon McGlothian of Virginia Beach, Va., became a PMP-certified project manager. But Jon can’t advertise to the public or take on individual students because his school isn’t licensed by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.