When IJ scores a victory in court, you can be sure to see it in Liberty & Law. Sometimes though, we achieve important victories without a court decision. These less-visible victories are a testament to IJ’s efficiency. Sometimes the mere filing of a lawsuit prompts capitulation by the government; other times we succeed at what we call “litigating by letterhead”—sending a letter to a government official demanding a halt to unlawful action. Let me share several recent examples.
In New Mexico, IJ launched a case challenging the state’s law that prohibited anyone who practiced interior design from calling themselves an interior designer unless they first obtained an expensive and increasingly difficult-to-secure government license. Within weeks of our filing, the state capitulated and the Legislature amended the law to enable anyone to use the title, thereby scuttling interior designers’ effort to cartelize the business.
We helped residents of southeast Seattle defeat a bogus blight designation that would have left their homes and businesses subject to condemnation and transfer to private interests. The city commissioned a study to justify using Washington’s Community Renewal Law to declare as “blighted” 1,391 acres, including 6,390 households, in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in America. A brave group of local residents fought back and, with the help of IJ’s Washington Chapter and the Castle Coalition, brought so much attention to the city’s efforts that the mayor was forced to back down.
In Arizona, entrepreneur Rick Hanley launched a business to place mesh covers over home vents to keep out roof rats. Suddenly, he was served with a cease-and-desist order from the Arizona Structural Pest Control Commission. The Commission said he could not advertise the purpose for which he did the work, effectively shutting him down. The Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter notified the Commission of its intent to protect Mr. Hanley’s rights to economic liberty and free speech. Like bullies confronted on the playground, the Commission backed down.
With such efficient success, IJ calls increasing numbers of bureaucrats to account, and secures precious liberties for more and more clients.
Chip Mellor is IJ’s president and general counsel.