Wilmington, N.C.—Wilmington’s vacation rental owners will have to wait a little longer to celebrate their right to rent their home. Following a decisive win on Tuesday, yesterday the city announced it would appeal the decision and asked the court to suspend enforcement of the order until the appeals process is complete. The city argued that…
Now the 5th Circuit will decide whether police officers can enforce a clearly unconstitutional law and get away with it
Arlington, Va.—Police officers swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution, but can they be held accountable when they blatantly violate that oath? The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will soon consider whether a citizen-journalist in Texas can seek justice after a retaliatory arrest and prosecution. The Institute for Justice (IJ), as part of its recently…
Case argues that police cannot seize cars indefinitely without giving owners an opportunity to plead their case in front of a judge
Today, a federal appeals court ruled that law enforcement agencies can seize and keep Americans’ cars indefinitely without giving the owners an opportunity to plead their case in front of a judge. The decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is a blow to the constitutional rights of car-owners in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana,…
Wilmington, N.C.—Today, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Richard K. Harrell ruled that Wilmington’s vacation rental law violates a North Carolina statewide law prohibiting municipalities from requiring rental permits. The decision is a win for Peg and David Schroeder, who filed the lawsuit challenging Wilmington’s ordinance imposing a 2% overall cap on vacation-rental properties and requiring…
Vegan food company Upton’s Naturals and the Plant Based Foods Association fight against compelled disclaimer as a violation of the First Amendment
OKLAHOMA CITY—All of the food Upton’s Naturals sells is proudly labeled as “100% vegan.” Even though it is already obvious that Upton’s Natural’s foods do not contain meat, a new law in Oklahoma demands that the company include a disclaimer on its label as large and prominent as the product’s name stating that the food…
U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 150 years ago held that Americans have the right to use the navigable waters of the U.S. So why, after 23 years, are the Courtney brothers still not able to use the waters of Washington’s Lake Chelan?
Arlington, Virginia—Jim and Cliff Courtney have spent 23 years trying to travel 55 miles by boat—and they have yet to reach their destination. With the petition they filed yesterday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case, the brothers hope their next stop will be before the nation’s High Court. Since 1997, the brothers from…
Amicus brief asks that government officials be held accountable for violating constitutional rights
Arlington, Va.—On October 6 of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument over whether officials from the FBI and other government agencies can be held accountable for violating Americans’ constitutional rights. The case, which was originally scheduled to be heard in March, is a unique opportunity for the Court to send a clear…
Sage Lewis pioneered an innovative community for the homeless on his commercial property at 15 Broad Street in Akron, Ohio. His nonprofit, The Homeless Charity, provides tents, food, showers, computers, and other resources to 44 residents. But Akron is trying to eliminate his work through the city’s zoning code.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
On May 11, 2015, Miladis Salgado returned home to find her life turned upside down. While she was at work, police raided her home and seized her entire life savings—$15,000 in cash—based on a tip that her estranged husband was dealing drugs. He wasn’t, but that didn’t stop the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from attempting to keep Miladis’s money forever.
In 2014, James King, a 21-year-old college student at the time, was walking between his two summer internships in Grand Rapids. James had no idea his life was about to change when he came upon two men leaning against a black SUV. They were dressed in scruffy street clothes.
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.
David and Ellen Keith have lived in Pleasant Ridge since the 1970s, and a daughter, a granddaughter and even two great-grandchildren live next door. But if forced out, they will be left nearly destitute in their retirement.
Teresa Quinones, of Lawrenceville, Ga., is a mother of three young children. Her two oldest children, Audri and Christopher, attend Notre Dame Academy, thanks to Georgia’s Scholarship Tax-Credit Program.
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.
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.
Alan and Judy Gillis live in Orrington, Maine and send their youngest daughter, Isabella, currently a junior to Bangor Christian Schools. But because Alan and Judy have chosen a religious school for their daughter, Maine prohibits the town from paying Isabella’s tuition to Bangor Christian Schools.
John Hart is a New York Times bestselling author who has won several awards for his character-driven, literary thrillers. A former defense attorney and stockbroker, John lives on a farm in Virginia where he writes full-time. But Charlottesville and Albemarle County require a business license to write novels, and they have assessed thousands of dollars in back taxes against Corban and other hardworking freelance writers.
Panna Shah came to the United States from India in 2006 in search of a better life. She has been threading for more than 30 years but would be unable to thread full-time because she can’t afford to complete Louisiana’s irrelevant training requirements.
Aimee and Heath Hairr have five adopted children. Their oldest, Nolan, was floundering in his public school and endured intense bullying. The Hairrs just want Nolan to have a safe learning environment and for their other children to have the same.
Esteban Narez, 26, grew up in Watsonville, California with his mother and two sisters. Esteban withdrew from high school his senior year due to a major injury. He hasn’t been able to get a GED because the medical bills and his family’s finances have forced him to work full-time ever since. Esteban wants to train as a farrier, but California won’t let him.
Inspired by France’s wine-growing regions, Nan Bailly’s father started Alexis Bailly Vineyard, Minnesota’s oldest operating farm winery, in 1973. Nan has continued her father’s legacy, making Minnesota wines with her vineyard’s grapes and other locally-sourced ingredients. She would like the freedom to offer new and greater varieties of blended wine to the public without worrying about an arbitrary limit on how many of her grapes crossed Minnesota’s border.
Brent worked in banking for 42 years before he co-founded Vizaline to provide small community banks with a cost effective way to assess small property assets within their portfolios. But the Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors claimed the company was practicing unlicensed surveying.
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.
Gerardo Serrano owns a Ford F-250 pickup that was seized by Customs and Border Protection for civil forfeiture in September 2015. CBP seized the truck because they found five bullets in the center console, claiming they were “munitions of war.” After almost two years without a judge hearing his case, Gerardo joined with the Institute for Justice in September 2017 to file a lawsuit to get his truck back. Gerardo also filed suit on behalf of all U.S. citizens who have had vehicles seized by CBP, seeking an order requiring the agency to provide a prompt hearing whenever they take vehicles for civil forfeiture.
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.
Dale Sorcher has cared for infants and toddlers at a Jewish day care on and off since 1996 and holds two masters degrees, one in social work and one in expressive therapy. Unfortunately, under a new regulation in the District of Columbia, her experience does not qualify her to keep her job.
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.