Pasadena, Calif.—On Monday, March 30, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider a case in which two entrepreneurs have spent 23 years trying to travel 55 miles by boat—and they have yet to reach their destination. Jim and Cliff Courtney from Washington state have endured a 23-year ongoing legal battle for the right to use the nation’s waters in pursuit of a livelihood. But rather…
CHICAGO—A brand new website, www.ShopInPlaceChi.com, is offering Windy City consumers a place to find neighborhood small businesses that are still selling products essential for residents sheltering at home. The website is currently live and welcomes new submissions from Chicago small businesses selling products in categories such as bath and cleaning products, books, educational supplies, games…
Arlington, Va.—Seven years ago, police officers in Fresno, California, executed search warrants on the homes and business of Micah Jessop and Brittan Ashjian, who owned a business operating and servicing ATMs. Police were investigating a report of illegal gambling. Although neither was ever charged with a crime, police seized nearly $275,000 in rare coins the…
Tallahassee, Fla.—Local governments across Florida will no longer be able to ban food trucks or require food truck operators to get an additional local license in order to vend under a bill passed by the Florida House and Senate today. The provision is part of a broader bill to reform occupational licensing in the state…
Tallahassee, Fla.—With House and Senate passage of the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act, job-creating licensing reform is now on its way to Gov. DeSantis. The bill, HB 1193, is the product of a years-long effort to reduce occupational licensing burdens for a number of professions. The Institute for Justice (IJ), a non-profit law firm that…
Arlington, Va.—The nation’s best law for homemade food businesses is about to become even better. Today, Gov. Mark Gordon signed HB 84, a bill that will expand the Wyoming Food Freedom Act. Along with 48 other states, Wyoming lets residents sell shelf-stable food made at home, like baked goods, jams, and jellies. But Wyoming Food…
Arlington, Va.— In 2015, an armed shoplifter fleeing the police broke into a Greenwood Village, Colorado, home and refused to come out. After taking gunfire from the shoplifter, the police laid siege to the home. During a 19-hour standoff, officers used explosives, high-caliber ammunition and a battering ram mounted on a tank-like vehicle called a…
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.
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.
Under Red Wing, Minn.’s rental inspection ordinance, it is easier for the government to force its way into the homes of law-abiding citizens than it is to search the home of a suspected criminal. Robert and Rebecca joined a lawsuit to stop these unreasonable and intrusive inspections of their private residential properties.
Michael Peticolas owns Peticolas Brewing, located in an industrial neighborhood near downtown Dallas. In 2013, Texas passed a law that prohibits brewers from negotiating with distributors for the value of their territorial rights. Instead, the law forces brewers to give those rights away for free. That jeopardizes his plans to expand into other parts of Texas.
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.
Recognized as one of the top ophthalmologists in the country, Dr. Lee Birchansky seeks to offer the kind of medical innovation Iowans need.
David and Ellen Keith have lived in Pleasant Ridge since the 1970s, and a daughter, a granddaughter and even two great-grandchildren live next door. But if forced out, they will be left nearly destitute in their retirement.
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.
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.
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.
Since 2014, Michelle has owned and operated her two food trucks in and around Wilmington, North Carolina: Momma Rock’s Dessert Truck specializes in event catering while T’Geaux Boys—a nod to Michelle’s Louisiana roots—operates as a more traditional food truck.
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.
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.
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.”
Hilda Brucker was sitting at home one day working her job as a freelance writer. The phone rang, she answered, and was told by a hostile voice that if she didn’t come down to the courthouse at once she would be given a failure to appear violation. She hastily complied. When she got there, she found out that the city had issued a citation, although it had never told her about it. She later learned the citation stated she was charged with (1) “Rotted wood on house and chipping paint on fascia boards”; (2) “High weeds in backyard and ivy on tree and vines on house”; and (3) “Driveway in a state of disrepair.” Not knowing what to do, Hilda pled guilty to the driveway charge, while the other two were dismissed. She paid a fine of $100 and was sentenced to six months probation, where she had to report to a probation officer, avoid alcoholic intoxication, and cooperate “with code enforcement upon request.” She later hired an attorney who filed a motion to vacate her sentence, but the motion was continued several times, eventually being granted only after her six-month probation would have already ended. She also obtained a home equity line of credit in case she needed to pay for any of the fixes that the city nebulously demanded.
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.
St. Louis tried to take Jim Roos’ property through eminent domain. Jim protested by painting a giant sign on one of his buildings. The city then tried to censor him.
Melisa Ingram is a hardworking Detroit resident who found herself betrayed by her partner, and then betrayed by Wayne County’s forfeiture program.
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.
Abdi immigrated to the United States in the 1990s, after fleeing the civil war in his native Somalia. He is a longtime taxi driver who want to go into business for himself.
This caveman blogger fought for free speech and Internet freedom.
Tracy is an experienced sewer who teaches students how to sew as a hobby, but under Virginia law, she’s not allowed to teach students how to earn a living with sewing.
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.
Tour guides are storytellers, and the government can’t be in the business of deciding who is (or who is not) allowed to tell stories.
Vincent Blount has accumulated $2,800 in fines,and even served jail time, due to Pagedale, Missouri’s system of excessive municipal fines.
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.
IJ client Elmer Kilian has been preparing taxes for the past 30 years on his dining room table. He fought and successfully defended his right to earn an honest living without getting permission from the IRS.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Keysha Newell is the mother of two children: One in a private elementary school, using using a scholarship from Nevada’s Scholarship Program, with the other in preschool. Newell plans to enroll her youngest child—who has a learning disability—in a private school. But without additional funding, the Scholarship Program may not have the funds to provide her youngest with a scholarship.
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.
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.
SurfVive is a local non-profit whose mission is “to sow love through surfing, food, and all forms of art.”
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.
IJ client Laura Pekarik is an entrepreneurial dynamo who owns and operates the Cupcakes for Courage food truck.
Bob Wilson is blocked by the city of Norfolk, Va., from displaying a banner protesting eminent domain abuse outside his business, Central Radio Company.