“The story of the Fourteenth Amendment is one of the most dramatic stories in American constitutional history. The amendment was born of political desperation. It almost caused a second Civil War. And it was only passed after the impeachment of an American president.” -Kurt Lash, University of Richmond School of Law REGISTER NOW Ratified 150 years ago,…
Government demands copies of books, threatens thousands in fines, offers nothing in return
Richmond, Va.—The U.S. Copyright Office is demanding copies of hundreds of books published by a small Richmond publisher, Valancourt Books. If Valancourt doesn’t send the books, they could be subject to six figures in fines. But there’s a problem: Valancourt doesn’t have the books. They are a print-on-demand publisher, and giving the federal government free…
College employment program bars religious employers from hiring students for on-the-job training
Like other schools in Washington state, Summit Christian Academy, a K-12 private school in Spokane, would like to hire college students as tutors under the state’s Work-Study Program. But because Summit is a religious school, it is barred by the government from doing so, even if those students would be tutoring in subjects such as…
San Juan, Puerto Rico—Today, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court rejected a teachers’ union’s challenge to the Free School Selection Program, and declared the program constitutional. As a result, up to 10,000 Puerto Rican families will be able to apply for government scholarships to send their children to the private or public schools of their choice.…
San Juan, Puerto Rico—Hoy el Tribunal Supremo rechazó el desafió de un sindicato de maestros contra el Programa de Libre Selección de Escuelas y declaró que el programa es constitucional. Como resultado de ello, hasta 10.000 familias puertorriqueñas podrán solicitar becas del gobierno para enviar a sus hijos la escuela pública o privada de su…
Un nuevo informe categoriza las leyes de Puerto Rico como las peores en los E.E.U.U.
Arlington, Va.– Las leyes de expropiación forzosa de Puerto Rico recibieron una calificación de F en un reporte publicado hoy por el Institute for Justice, una organización sin fines de lucro y firma legal de libertades civiles dedicada a erradicar la expropiación (o el “dominio eminente” como se conoce en los Estados Unidos) de manera…
In the aftermath of hurricane María, new report warns of potential government abuse
Arlington, Va.– Puerto Rico’s eminent domain laws received a grade of “F” in a report released today by the Institute for Justice (IJ), a nonprofit, civil liberties law firm dedicated to ending eminent domain abuse: when the government seizes private property not for traditional public uses, but for private development. The report examines Puerto Rico’s…
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.
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.
Norys Hernandez co-owns a home in North Philadelphia with her sister, who resides there. Norys has never been in trouble with the law. But her home was seized after her nephew was caught selling a small amount of drugs outside the home.
Kriss Marion is the founder of her local farmers’ market in Blanchardville, Wisconsin. But under the state’s ban on selling home-baked goods, Kriss must instead give her extra baked goods away or feed them to her pigs and chickens.
Russ Caswell and his family have owned and operated the Motel Caswell in Tewksbury, Mass., for two generations. The Caswells nearly had their property taken from them by local and federal law enforcement officials through a process known as civil forfeiture.
Charles Clarke is a college student, who spent over 5 years to save up $11,000—only to have it seized by law enforcement officials before he was scheduled to board a flight at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport.
For decades, Isis Brantley has fought for her right to braid hair and to pass on her knowledge to others. She successfully sued the state of Texas after it attempted to force her to turn her braiding school into a barber college.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brothers Jeffrey, Richard and Mitch Hirsch owned Bi-County Distributors Inc., a small distribution business in Long Island, N.Y. The IRS used a legal process called civil forfeiture to seize their entire bank account—more than $446,000—even though they had done nothing wrong. After the brothers filed a lawsuit, the IRS returned their hard-earned cash.
The owner and operator of the Pizza di Joey food truck, Joey is challenging Baltimore’s 300-foot rule because it threatens his lifelong dream of owning his own pizza business. He also believes that the city shouldn’t be limiting hungry Baltimoreans’ dining choices.
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.”
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.
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.
After obtaining her private certifications in canine massage therapy, Grace started volunteering with rescue agencies and adoption events to provide canine massage for ailing and neglected dogs. She later turned her volunteer hobby into a business, which she named Pawsitive Touch.
Michael Jensen would like Dr. Birchansky to perform his next needed eye surgery at the outpatient center next to Dr. Birchansky’s office because it is a safe, less costly, convenient, and familiar environment. Unfortunately Iowa’s CON law is denying him that choice.
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.
Rett owns Revolver Brewing, south of Fort Worth. He is fighting a Texas law that forces brewers to give up their distribution rights to distributors for free. Even worse, distributors can then sell those rights to other distributors and pocket the money.
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.
Dr. Mark Monteferrante wants to build a new, top-notch medical facility in Virginia. But under the commonwealth’s certificate of need (CON) program, he first has to persuade government officials that his facility would be “needed.”
Next Chapter Winery is a family-run winery in New Prague, Minnesota built by Timothy and Therese Tulloch. To grow Next Chapter’s business, they would like to offer more varieties of wine, which would require using more grapes from other regions.
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.