Fighting Back Against Government Retaliation

May 19, 2023

It is no secret that thin-skinned government officials don’t like the glare of public scrutiny. That’s why, too often, they weaponize federal, state, and local laws to selectively target those who criticize them. No surprise then that IJ’s legal team, in the course of defending our clients’ constitutional rights and exposing government misdeeds, has also become a national expert at fighting back against this unconstitutional retaliation. 

Now we’re launching a dedicated page on the IJ website to collect all our cases and resources on retaliation in one place and to give retaliation victims a portal to reach out to us for help. 

These cases are core to our First Amendment work because retaliation operates as a form of backdoor censorship that can suppress speech just as much as laws openly restricting expression. Clients we’re currently representing include a Cleveland man whose truck was towed and a Texas grandmother who was jailed after they dared to criticize their local governments. The message from government officials is clear: Keep your mouth shut or else. 

But retaliation can also occur in non-First Amendment IJ cases, when officials punish our clients for exercising their right to file a lawsuit. Thus, we’re fighting back with a retaliation lawsuit on behalf of our client who is suing to end Detroit’s forfeiture policies and who has since faced bogus charges to scare him off. 

Retaliation cases also advance IJ’s Project on Immunity and Accountability. That is because the victims who sue to hold officials accountable must often overcome barriers like qualified immunity or municipal immunity. As a result, each victory we secure serves as vital precedent keeping the courthouse doors open for future victims of these unlawful practices.  

With our new webpage, we look forward to informing the public about this scourge of backdoor censorship and identifying more victims whose rights we can defend.

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