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Supreme Court Cases

The Institute for Justice has won seven U.S. Supreme Court cases.

Collectively, these cases span all our litigation areas. Our victories have vindicated the right to earn an honest living, expanded educational opportunity for millions of children, defended free speech, and strengthened the Constitution’s protection of Americans’ property.

The Court decided our most recent case, Brownback v. King, on February 25, 2021. Although the Court issued a technical win for the police officers who assaulted our client, James King, it refused to create a new loophole for federal officials to escape accountability when they violate someone’s constitutional rights. The case now returns to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where IJ will continue fighting for justice for James.

IJ’s only other Supreme Court loss was Kelo v. New London, where the Court ruled the government could use eminent domain to take property for private development. It was one of the most controversial decisions of the decade, and IJ harnessed the resulting backlash to win in the court of public opinion, leading to reforms and court decisions in 47 states that better protect property rights.

You can learn more about each of IJ’s Supreme Court cases below.

  • Carson v. Makin

    Maine Families Fight for School Choice in U.S. Supreme Court Appeal

    SPECIAL: Carson v. Makin U.S. Supreme Court Media Kit Institute for Justice Carson v. Makin News Release Litigation Backgrounder Institute for Justice Petition for Certiorari Client Photos Video interview with attorney and parent School Choice Myths & Realities On behalf of three Maine families, the Institute for Justice (IJ) and the First Liberty Institute (FLI)…

  • Brownback v. King

    Taking on The Shell Games That Allow Federal/State Task Force Members To Violate Your Rights

    Brownback v. King is IJ’s first Immunity and Accountability case that was argued before the United States Supreme Court. It involves James King, an innocent college student who was brutally beaten and choked unconscious by plainclothes police.

  • Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue

    Montana Moms Seek to Restore School Choice Program that was Struck Down for Including Religious Options

    On June 30, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court decided one of the most important education reform cases in the past half-century. This landmark case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, held that the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to discriminate against religious parents or schools if policymakers choose to enact a private educational choice program.

  • Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas

    Can States Bar Newcomers from Owning a Business?

    Doug and Mary Ketchum moved to Tennessee so they could own and operate a mom-and-pop liquor store there. Doing so would enable them to meet their two main goals:  earning a living and doing so in a way that gives them the flexible schedule they need to take care of their severely disabled and ailing…

  • Timbs v. Indiana

    There ARE Limits: IJ Takes Excessive Fines Case to the U.S. Supreme Court

    State and local authorities cannot treat Americans like ATMs. There are instead federal constitutional limits to the many fines, fees and forfeitures that states and localities impose.  That is the principle that Tyson Timbs and the Institute for Justice established at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2019. In a unanimous opinion by Justice Ginsburg, the…

  • Arizona Campaign Finance (Second Challenge)

    The Dirty Truth about Arizona’s “Clean Elections” Act: U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Strike Down Program that Discourages Free Speech, Puts Thumb on Scales for Government-Funded Political Candidates

    In 2008, the Institute for  Justice and the Goldwater Institute teamed up to challenge Arizona’s punitive  system of funding campaigns with taxpayer money.  The consolidated challenges to the  “matching funds” provision of Arizona’s so-called “Clean Elections” Act  eventually made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on March 28, 2011,  heard argument in Arizona…

  • Kelo Eminent Domain

    Eminent Domain Without Limits?: U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Curb Nationwide Abuses

    Susette Kelo dreamed of owning a home that looked out over the water. She purchased and lovingly restored her little pink house where the Thames River meets the Long Island Sound in 1997, and had enjoyed the great view from its windows. The Dery family, up the street from Susette, had lived in Fort Trumbull…

  • Arizona Individual Tax Credit Scholarships (Federal)

    U.S. Supreme Court Dismisses Legal Challenge to Arizona School Choice Program

    On April 4, 2011, in a major victory for school choice efforts nationwide, the United States Supreme Court dismissed this frivolous legal challenge to Arizona’s Individual Scholarship Tax Credit, which provides tens of thousands of school children the opportunity to attend the private school of their parent’s choice.

  • New York Wine

    Uncorking Freedom: Challenging Protectionist Restraints on Direct Interstate Wine Shipments to Consumers

    Juanita Swedenburg, Virginia vintner and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, successfully waged the nation’s leading legal battle to reestablish the American ideals of unfettered interstate commerce, especially on the Internet. With the help of the Institute for Justice, Swedenburg challenged discriminatory laws that existed only to protect the monopoly power of large,…

  • Cleveland, Ohio, School Choice (Federal Case)

    U.S. Supreme Court issued its most important educational decision since Brown v. Board of Education

    On June 27, 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Cleveland’s school choice program in the most important education decision since Brown v. Board of Education.  The court’s ruling in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris removed the federal Constitution from the legal arsenal of teachers’ unions and other school choice opponents and opened the door…

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