Yesterday, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation that stops the Internal Revenue Service from raiding the bank accounts of small-business owners. The Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act, passed as part of the Taxpayer First Act (H.R. 3151), is named after Institute for Justice clients Jeff Hirsch and Randy Sowers, two victims of the IRS’s aggressive seizures for so-called “structuring.” Through structuring…
Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Alabama Forfeiture Information Reporting Act (SB 191) late Monday, which will shine a light on law enforcement’s often secretive use of civil forfeiture. Without ever charging the owner with a crime, police and prosecutors can seize cash, cars, and other valuables, and if the property is forfeited, keep up to…
First Amendment Lawsuit Has Major Implications for Free Speech and Telepractice
AUSTIN, Texas—Today, Texas veterinarian Dr. Ron Hines announced that he will ask the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to recognize that a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer, NIFLA v. Becerra, established that the First Amendment protects the right of licensed professionals to give advice over the internet. Ron joined forces with the…
Extensive, Decade-Long Study Also Provides Fresh Evidence of “Policing for Profit” in Federal Equitable Sharing Program
Arlington, Va.—A new Institute for Justice study (PDF) finds the nation’s largest forfeiture program does not help police fight crime. Instead, the study indicates police use forfeiture to boost revenue—in other words, to police for profit. The IJ study, “Fighting Crime or Raising Revenue? Testing Opposing Views of Forfeiture,” combines local crime, drug use and economic…
Minnesota will no longer license natural hair braiders thanks to an omnibus budget bill Gov. Tim Walz signed on Thursday. Previously, Minnesota required braiders to complete a 30-hour course and pay a $20 fee before they could practice their craft. But under SF 10, braiders are now completely exempt from all occupational and facility licensing…
Craft breweries must continue forfeiting their own distribution rights
Today, in a blow to the economic liberty of all Texans, the Texas Supreme Court refused to grant review in a constitutional challenge that asked whether the government can use its power to pick winners and losers in the marketplace. The legal challenge concerned a law passed in 2013 at the behest of beer distributors…
Food Truck Owners Will Appeal to State’s Highest Court
Arlington, Va.—The Maryland Court of Special Appeals yesterday reinstated Baltimore’s ban on mobile vendors operating within 300 feet of any brick and mortar establishment selling similar food. This overturns a 2017 Baltimore Circuit Court ruling that declared the city’s 300-foot ban too vague to enforce. The Institute for Justice (IJ) and two food trucks, Pizza…
Chris 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.
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.
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.
Panna Shah came to the United States from India in 2006 in search of a better life. She has been threading for more than 30 years but would be unable to thread full-time because she can’t afford to complete Louisiana’s irrelevant training requirements.
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.
Valarie has received a set of warnings from Pagedale, threatening her with fines and fees for alleged violations. She was even arrested in front of her home and taken to Pagedale city hall because of an unspecified ticket.
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.
Brent worked in banking for 42 years before he co-founded Vizaline to provide small community banks with a cost effective way to assess small property assets within their portfolios. But the Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors claimed the company was practicing unlicensed surveying.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bill Von Winkle’s Fort Trumbull Deli served oversized hoagies to eager customers from 1986 until 2001 when the New London Development Corporation’s actions forced the Von Winkles to shut it down and forgo its income.
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.
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.
Pat Raynor, a lifelong hairstylist, became interested in working from home after her husband Harold passed away in 2009. But under Nashville’s ban on home-based businesses, Pat was forced to shut down her home hair salon.
Jeff has spent almost 30 years building a successful small business with his brothers, distributing candy, snacks and other goods to convenience stores throughout Long Island. But the government raided the business’s bank account using civil forfeiture—taking $446,000 and nearly destroying the family business. T
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.
Jill Homan lives in Petworth with her family and sends her one-year-old daughter to a day care center in Northeast D.C. Jill wants to stand up for day care providers’ right to earn a living and for her own right to choose her child’s caretakers.
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.
IJ client Dr. Ben Burris is an Arkansas orthodontist who wants to offer low-cost teeth cleanings to people who cannot otherwise afford them. But it is illegal for him to perform basic dental services, even though he is a licensed dentist.
Jim and Cliff Courtney have a plan to bring economic prosperity to their small community. Unfortunately, the state of Washington has sunk their plan with a law that requires them to obtain a certificate of “public convenience and necessity” from the state in order to pick up and drop off passengers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Iowa’s certificate-of-need requirement prevents Michael Driesen and his children from receiving future ENT surgeries from Korver ENT because Korver ENT cannot open its proposed surgery center before obtaining a certificate of need.