Elfie Gallun Fellowship


In 2014, the Institute for Justice announced the creation of the Elfie Gallun Fellowship in Freedom and the Constitution.

Endowed by longtime IJ supporters Elfie and Ned Gallun and their family, this fellowship serves as an enduring reminder of the rare, precious and fragile nature of liberty. As a survivor of both Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, Elfie has a deep appreciation for the blessings of liberty. The fellowship established at the Institute for Justice in her name will provide a platform for a young attorney to convey the optimism, grit and commitment to freedom that IJ and Elfie share.

The Gallun family recognizes IJ as a powerful force for securing freedom in America, and through this fellowship they will help ensure IJ’s long-term growth and success as the National Law Firm for Liberty.

Elfie’s Journey to Freedom

“I wanted to shout, ‘I am free, I am free,’ but no words came from my lips because by then my heart was in my throat. There I stood in silence, having no one else to share that moment with me, and being lost in the wonder of Freedom.”

— Elfie Gallun, after escaping to West Berlin in 1951

Elfie was born in East Prussia in 1932. As a child, she endured Hitler’s Germany, only to be trapped in Stalin’s East Germany. Separated from her family after the war and uncertain whether they were even alive, she survived thanks to the kindness of a Jewish seamstress and Holocaust survivor who took her in, shared her small home and helped Elfie return to school. After graduating eighth grade, Elfie was reunited with her mother and labored for two years at an East German farm because her own family’s property had been confiscated under Communist rule.

To escape the hard physical labor, she took a job in a Communist Party food store, forcing her to join the Communist youth organization. When the group arranged a trip to East Berlin, Elfie joined them, determined to see the free zone of West Berlin. But Party leaders saw her break the rules by traveling to West Berlin, a crime that exposed her, as a 19-year-old woman, to a sentence of 20 years’ hard labor.

Warned by a friend and with minutes to spare, she fled to a town near the border of West Germany. With the help of kind strangers, she hid from police patrols and finally reached freedom by crawling across a river in the middle of the night on the narrow steel remains of a dismantled railroad bridge.

In the 1980s she wrote about her experience to President Ronald Reagan: “When I finally got through the border (across a river) I ran for about 50 yards…I wanted to shout, ‘I am free, I am free,’ but no words came from my lips because by then my heart was in my throat. There I stood in silence, having no one else to share that moment with me, and being lost in the wonder of Freedom.”

President Reagan was so moved by Elfie’s story, he wrote back:Gallun-fellowship-Reagan-letter

Elfie GallunWhile living in freedom in West Berlin, Elfie met Ned Gallun, a soldier in the U.S. Army who was stationed at the border. They fell in love, were married, and moved back to his home state of Wisconsin, where they raised their son, Martin. Elfie passed away on January 22, 2019 in her hometown of 50 years, Hartland, Wisconsin. Her courage and unwavering commitment to freedom live on at the Institute for Justice.

“One look around the globe is enough to remind us how rare and fragile a thing freedom is, and how each generation is called upon to make the necessary sacrifices to safeguard it.”

— President Ronald Reagan, in a letter to Elfie Gallun

“America’s Constitution creates an environment suitable for human thriving. This environment cannot be taken for granted. Without vigilance, it can disappear over time.”

— Anya Bidwell

IJ’s Elfie Gallun Fellow: Anya Bidwell

Anya Bidwell became IJ’s third Elfie Gallun Fellow in Freedom and the Constitution in July 2019. Having grown up in the former Soviet Union, Anya shares Elfie’s deep appreciation of the fragile and precious nature of liberty. At the age of 16, Anya left her native Kyrgyzstan seeking freedom and opportunity in America. She completed a Master’s degree in Global Policy Studies before earning her J.D. with honors from the University of Texas, where she worked as a student attorney at the United States Supreme Court Clinic.

Anya joined the Institute for Justice in 2017 and has worked on a number of high-profile cases, including serving as co-counsel in IJ’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court case vindicating the rights of small business owners Doug and Mary Ketchum to earn an honest living. She also works to protect property owners from civil forfeiture, helping ban abusive roadside waivers in Wyoming and challenging the forfeiture practices of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. As IJ’s new Gallun Fellow, Anya will carry on this important work, with an emphasis on writing and speaking to new audiences about the liberties that inspired Elfie’s journey to freedom and the critical role that the Constitution plays in securing the American Dream.

Former Gallun Fellows

Sam Gedge was named IJ’s second Elfie Gallun Fellow in 2017. During his fellowship, Sam served as co-counsel in Timbs v. Indiana, in which IJ won a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court victory applying the Constitution’s protections against excessive fines to state and local governments. Sam also helped strike down Colorado’s abuse-prone system of enforcing state campaign finance laws, restoring vital protections for the political speech rights of all Coloradans. Sam’s work generated widespread coverage and discussion of IJ’s efforts in media outlets from The New York Times and The Atlantic to Wired and the U.K.’s Daily Mail.

Robert Everett Johnsonrobert-everett-johnson_lg was the first attorney to hold the Elfie Gallun Fellowship in Freedom and the Constitution. As the inaugural Gallun Fellow, Rob served as lead counsel on several cases defending private property rights, including a class action suit fighting the New York Police Department’s use of an unconstitutional “no-fault eviction” statute. During his fellowship, Rob testified before Congress regarding civil forfeiture and spoke to students and others about the vital role the U.S. Constitution plays in protecting our most precious freedoms.



May 25, 2016
Protecting Small Businesses from IRS Abuse, Part II
Congressional Testimony

House Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight
PDF of written testimony

Rob returned to Capitol Hill to report on the IRS’s continued abuse of civil forfeiture laws to seize money from innocent small business owners.

Rob_forfeiture hearingFebruary 11, 2016
Protecting Small Businesses from IRS Abuse
Congressional Testimony

House Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight
PDF of written testimony

Rob testified on the IRS’s abuse of civil forfeiture laws to seize money from small business owners for supposedly “structuring” withdrawals and deposits of their own money. IJ client and forfeiture victim Jeff Hirsch also testified.

Rob_licensing hearingFebruary 2, 2016
Occupational Licensing and the State Doctrine
Congressional Testimony

Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights
PDF of written testimony

Rob was invited to testify on how occupational licensing laws hurt American workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs. IJ client Bill Main also testified.

Legal and Policy Studies

BBB_screenshotPublished March 1, 2015
Boards Behaving

By Robert Everett Johnson

For decades, state licensing boards have abused their authority by adopting anticompetitive restrictions that harm consumers, stifle innovation, and yield no real public benefits. In this white paper, Rob breaks down the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC and explains how states can protect themselves from legal liability and promote economic growth and employment by eliminating unnecessary restrictions on their citizens’ liberties.

The report has been broadly distributed to legislators and policymakers and serves as an important tool in promoting IJ’s model occupational licensing legislation, which  incorporates the report’s key recommendations and was introduced in several state legislatures this year.


USA todayFebruary 17, 2016
IRS Should Return its Ill-Gotten Gain
By Robert Everett Johnson

Politico_squareFebruary 10, 2015
IRS Seizes First, Asks Questions Later
By Robert Everett Johnson and Larry Salzman

the HillJanuary 21, 2015
Celebrating a First Amendment Milestone
By Robert Everett Johnson

WSJJanuary 19, 2015
Tying Up the First Amendment with Red Tape
By Robert Everett Johnson and Paul Sherman

USA todayNovember 20, 2014
Where’s Your Ghost Story License?
By Robert Everett Johnson




Liberty & Law


August 2017
IJ Names a New Elfie Gallun Fellow in Freedom and the Constitution

Readers of Liberty & Law know that IJ stories are powerful because they are about real people who are motivated . . .

Structuring Petitions Ken Quran IFJ_7284March 31, 2016
Granted in Full: How Ken Quran Got Back His Retirement

“Is anyone expecting a fax from the IRS?” That question—sent around IJ’s offices by email—heralded a major break in the fight against civil forfeiture.

Savannah Tour Guides Free Speech Dan Leger IFJ_8173November 18, 2015
VICTORY! Tour Guides in Savannah are Finally Free to Talk

Good news for free speech in Savannah. Regular readers of Liberty & Law may recall that IJ filed suit almost one year ago on behalf of Savannah tour guides . . .

Structuring Petitions Ken Quran IFJ_7206August 13, 2015
Dear IRS: Give the Money Back

If you take something that does not belong to you, you give it back. That lesson of basic kindergarten ethics is the subject of an advanced legal strategy IJ is using . . .

North Carolina Forfeiture Lyndon McLellan lyndon_instagram_IFJ_7519June 5, 2015
Gone in 13 Days: IJ Holds IRS Accountable in North Carolina

This article was supposed to introduce IJ’s latest civil forfeiture case, involving a North Carolina convenience store owner named Lyndon McLellan. . .

Savannah Tour Guides Free Speech IFJ_8645March 4, 2015
Censorship in the Garden of Good and Evil

When Michelle Freenor heard about IJ’s victory overturning Washington, D.C.’s tour guide licensing scheme, she picked up the phone and called IJ’s offices.

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