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.

“I walked all day, wondering what I should do next, I k new I had to get across.

I was so close and yet a million miles away. But I had to try.”

Elfie’s Journey to Freedom

Elfie and Ned Gallun

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.

“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

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

While 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

Anya Bidwell Gallun Fellow

“Most Americans have always known freedom. Elfie’s story offers a crucial reminder, both of how fragile liberty truly is and of the moral courage needed to preserve it.”

Josh Windham

IJ’s Elfie Gallun Fellow

Josh Windham

Josh Windham became IJ’s fourth Elfie Gallun Fellow in Freedom and the Constitution in July 2022. Josh joined IJ’s headquarters office in 2016. He received his law degree earlier that year from the University of North Carolina School of Law, where he served as president of the Federalist Society and externed for the Honorable Robert Numbers in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Before that, Josh graduated summa cum laude from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Arts in History.
Since starting at IJ, Josh has worked to defend economic liberty and property rights, with a special emphasis on the important role that state constitutions play in preserving freedom. In 2020, he secured a major Pennsylvania Supreme Court victory holding that the Pennsylvania Constitution demands greater protection for economic liberty than the U.S. Constitution. In 2022, he convinced a state trial court that the Tennessee Constitution offers more protection from warrantless searches of private land than the U.S. Constitution. Josh is also a leader of IJ’s Project on the Fourth Amendment, which aims to bolster all Americans’ right to be secure in their persons and property. He is proud to serve as IJ’s next Elfie Gallun Fellow in Freedom and the Constitution and to continue this important work in Elfie’s name.

Former Gallun Fellows

Anya Bidwell

Anya Bidwell was named IJ’s third Elfie Gallun Fellow in 2019. During her fellowship, she worked to advance IJ’s Project on Immunity and Accountability as one of the project leaders. In November 2020, she helped argue a U.S. Supreme Court case, Brownback v. King, involving an innocent college student who was brutally beaten by undercover law enforcement officers. Anya’s work has been featured in media coverage from various outlets such as the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, and the Guardian.

Sam Gedge

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.

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Robert Everett Johnson

Robert Everett Johnson 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.

Advocacy

Protecting Small Businesses from IRS Abuse, Part II

Congressional Testimony

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

View Video

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.

May 25, 2016

Protecting Small Businesses from IRS Abuse

Congressional Testimony

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

View Video

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.

February 11, 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.

February 2, 2016

Legal and Policy Studies

BBB_screenshot

Boards Behaving Badly

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.

Published March 1, 2015

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Media