If you tell police they can go into your home, does that mean they can also legally stand outside and pepper it with shotgun-fired tear gas grenades—destroying everything inside? That is the question asked by a petition to the Supreme Court of the United States filed today by the Institute for Justice (IJ) on behalf…
PITTSBURGH—Terry Rolin’s life savings of $82,373 were seized by the federal government even though he has not been charged with any crime. In fact, his daughter was doing something completely legal—flying domestically with cash—when the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized the money in August 2019 at the Pittsburgh International Airport. Today, Terry and his daughter…
Pottstown, Penn.—This morning, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion vacating and remanding a lower court’s ruling in favor of Pottstown in a lawsuit challenging the borough’s rental inspection ordinance. This law allows the borough to enter residents’ homes without cause and without the residents’ consent. The Court also reversed the trial court’s orders…
The New Jersey Assembly unanimously passed a bill late Monday that would shine a light on “civil forfeiture,” which lets law enforcement seize property without ever charging the owner with a crime. In New Jersey, once property is forfeited, the government can then keep up to 100% of the proceeds, creating a perverse incentive to…
PHILADELPHIA—Today, a three-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania denied the Cosmetology Board’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two Philadelphia-area women who want to end an unconstitutional requirement that stands in the way of their careers. The Board used Courtney Haveman’s and Amanda Spillane’s past legal problems to deny them the right…
Las Vegas, Nev.—Today, Clark County District Court Judge Rob Bare handed Nevada families a first-round win in their constitutional challenge to a 2019 law that eliminated the automatic annual increase in the amount of tax credits available for donors to the Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program. Attorneys for the state were seeking to dismiss the…
From satellites in space to circuits for flashlights, Greg Mills has spent his entire career working as an engineer designing and building electronics. But earlier this year, a group of industry insiders sitting on a government board abruptly put Greg’s career on ice. Now he’s fighting back. Greg’s resume reads like a veritable who’s-who of…
Nevada is trying to force makeup artistry instructors, like IJ client Lissette Waugh, to get a license they don’t need.
Charlie Birnbaum is fighting to keep his family home in Atlantic City, N.J., which has been in his family for 50 years. But New Jersey wants to take it for the benefit of a bankrupt casino.
Heather is a single mother of a 14-year-old son. After bringing in baked goods to her son’s school for fundraisers and to his football team, Heather started getting many requests to sell them. But then Heather learned that selling her goods from home was illegal. Heather wants very much to be able to resume selling her delicious goods so she can use the money to support her son.
Ricardo Quintanilla operates Tacos el Regio but San Antonio’s vending restrictions make it difficult to operate.
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.
IJ clients Ted and Lauren Dzierzbicki wonder if the government can arbitrarily restrict the property rights of some individuals but not others.
Bob and Michael do not know where they will go if they lose their homes. But they do know they have a right to stay and to keep what they have worked all their lives for.
Spencer Byrd, a Chicago resident and part-time auto mechanic, who had his car impounded after he gave a client ride who got arrested for drugs. A Cook County Circuit Court judge ordered that his car be returned, but Chicago will not release Spencer’s car until he pays all of the towing and storage fees—more than $17,000.
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.
Tour guides are storytellers, and the government can’t be in the business of deciding who is (or who is not) allowed to tell stories.
Keena Bean is a tenant in an apartment home that is currently subject to Seattle’s rental-inspection program. She finds the idea of a stranger looking through her house inappropriate and disturbing.
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.
Lisa 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.
Under Red Wing, Minn.’s rental inspection ordinance, it is easier for the government to force its way into the homes of law-abiding citizens than it is to search the home of a suspected criminal. Robert and Rebecca joined a lawsuit to stop these unreasonable and intrusive inspections of their private residential properties.
Mark owns the Metro Marathon service station in Sterling Heights, Mich., which has been in the family for 40 years. But in 2013, the IRS seized over $70,000, even though Mark violated no law.
In September 2015, Tammy Holland took out two ads in her local Colorado newspaper to alert readers to upcoming school-board elections. For that simple act of civic engagement, Tammy was sued—twice—by incumbent school board members who didn’t appreciate the publicity. Tammy teamed up with IJ to challenge Colorado’s abuse-prone system of enforcing private campaign-finance complaints. In June 2018, a federal court sided with Tammy and declared Colorado’s system unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
Aurora Espinoza is a single mom who works a full‑time job to make ends meet, has two daughters who are trapped by their zip code in some of the worst public schools in the state.
Robert and Dorice Pierce have rented from Josefina Lozano since June 2000 and are now fighting against rental inspections in Zion, Illinois.
Jim Ficken is a 69-year-old retiree living in a modest two-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Dunedin, Florida. For letting his lawn grow too long, Jim faces nearly $29,000 in fines and has been threatened with foreclosure.
Jeana and Jack Horner are among the hundreds of people each year who find themselves caught in Indianapolis’s forfeiture machine.
Doug and Mary Ketchum moved to Tennessee to purchase an historic liquor store that would let them take care of their 32-year-old daughter, Stacie, who suffers from cerebral palsy. But they can’t get a liquor license, thanks to the state’s strict residency requirements.
The First Amendment should apply to licensed professionals who give advice over the Internet.
Dr. Mark Baumel, of Colon Health Centers for America, wants to increase the rate of screening for colon cancers. But when Dr. Baumel and his partners sought Virginia’s permission to buy new CT scanners, it denied them a “certificate of need.”
The Archdiocese of Newark is one of the largest in terms of population in the U.S., with nearly 1.3 million Catholics and 219 parishes. The Archdiocese is fighting a New Jersey law that makes it a crime to sell monuments, such as headstones, to their parishioners.
IJ client Dan Burgess drives for ridesharing companies uberX, Sidecar and Lyft and is fighting to defend his economic liberty.
IJ client Celeste Kelly spent hundreds of hours learning about horses in order to obtain private certifications in animal massage. But now the state of Arizona is forcing her to become a licensed veterinarian to continue practicing her craft.
Lisa Kivirist is a mother, farmer, business owner and avid baker. Lisa typically serves muffins and other baked goods at her B&B for breakfast, but the baked-good ban prohibits her from selling these same exact goods to guests.
Boaz is a full-time student who lives in a rental home that is currently subject to Seattle’s rental-inspection program.
In 2011, police raided Jameelah El-Shabazz’s apartment in New York City and found several cups filled with crushed eggshells, which Jameelah uses for religious purposes. Believing the cups were filled with drugs, police arrested Jameelah and her son Akin and held them in jail for a week. They also had her apartment closed . City attorneys, relying on those same discredited allegations about the cups of crushed eggshells, claimed the apartment had been the site of drug crimes, and had her apartment closed under the city’s no-fault eviction ordinance. Unable to fight back in court, Jameelah had to agree to permanently bar her son from her home in order to regain access to her own apartment.
Heather Kokesch Del Castillo is a health coach in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, who joined with the Institute for Justice to defend her First Amendment right to give dietary advice.
For more than 30 years, Hinga Mbogo has been fixing the cars of Dallas residents at his shop on Ross Avenue. But the city is trying to shut him down by using an oppressive and little-known zoning process called “amortization.”
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.
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.
Sung Cho owns and operates Super Laundromat and Drycleaners, one of the largest laundromats in Manhattan. Sung could be evicted, and his business closed, simply because his business was the site of a crime. The identity of the criminals was beside the point.
Mats Järlström is a Swedish-born electronics engineer and has the equivalent of a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. After his wife received a ticket based on a red-light camera in Beaverton, Oregon, Mats began criticizing the math behind red-light cameras. But Oregon’s engineer-licensing board considered Mats’ traffic-light critiques to be the unlicensed practice of engineering and fined him $500.
Robin Lamp is a single parent whose two daughters attend Christian academy in Georgia.
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.