June saw the passing of two IJ clients who made courageous stands for the protection of essential constitutional liberties.
A decade ago, IJ challenged an attempt by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to license those who merely offered advice about commodity trading through books, newsletters, websites and computer software. We secured a victory in that case, setting an important early precedent extending free speech guarantees to Internet and software publishers. Indeed, when we conducted the trial, ours was the first courtroom to have live Internet access. (The infamous Microsoft antitrust trial, which was going on right down the hallway at the time, was not yet wired.)
Frank Taucher, the lead plaintiff in our case, passed away unexpectedly at the too-young age of 60 while taking a walk. We have used the landmark Taucher precedent in our other work challenging “speech licensing,” including our successful cases curtailing state efforts to require websites such as ForSaleByOwner.com to become licensed real estate brokers. We are grateful for Mr. Taucher’s courage.
The Vendetti family has been a leading voice in our case challenging the taking of homes along the Atlantic Coast in Long Branch, N.J. Carmen Vendetti worked as a truck driver in Newark for 45 years and dreamed of owning a home for his family near the ocean. He realized that dream in the 1960s and, in 1989, upon retirement, moved to his red brick sanctuary full-time with his wife, Fifi. His daughter, who spent her childhood summers there, loved the neighborhood so much she bought a home right across the street from her parents.
Mr. Vendetti, at 82, recently lost his battle with cancer. He was a kind gentleman, always smiling and genial, but totally determined to hold on to his house and stop eminent domain abuse. After our appellate court victory in the Long Branch case last year, we hope we are close to seeing Mr. Vendetti’s goal realized.
Scott Bullock is an Institute senior attorney.