Goliath-Sized Foes

August 1, 2004

August 2004

Goliath-Sized Foes

By Chip Mellor

What do you get when you combine the nation’s largest union, cartels protected by regulatory boards composed of cartel members, politically connected real estate developers worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and assorted bureaucrats wielding unchecked authority? The answer: A sample of the foes arrayed on any given day against the Institute for Justice and the principles of liberty for which we fight.

All of our cases are David v. Goliath battles, made more challenging by the fact that we are usually trying to overturn decades-old legal precedent. The stakes in every case are high for our clients who stand to lose livelihoods, homes, the chance for a decent education and other attributes of the American Dream. But the stakes are high for our opponents, too. After all, they have millions of dollars tied up in the status quo and the unconstitutional legal regime that protects it. As a result, our opponents can be counted on to marshal enormous resources to defeat us.

For instance, in our recent challenge to bogus blight and eminent domain abuse in Norwood, Ohio, the developer seeking to acquire our clients’ properties through condemnation paid for the study that designated the property blighted, hired numerous experts for trial, and paid for the City’s legal expenses, including the hiring of a prominent, private law firm.

In our defense of the Colorado school choice program, the National Education Association, with more than $1 billion in compulsory dues and other fees from 2.7 million members, as usual led the charge against the reform. And it was joined by organizations such as People for the American Way, American Federation of Teachers, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, each of which has much deeper pockets than the Institute for Justice.

Similarly, we are up against not only the City of Seattle, but also mega corporations Allied Waste Industries and Waste Management, Inc. in our challenge to the construction waste hauling monopoly granted by the City.

Despite such well-heeled opposition, we prevail. Not every time of course, but with a frequency that alarms statists and has earned IJ national acclaim. (As National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu said when discussing the victories of the Institute for Justice, “You don’t mess with these people.”) We are able to win because we pursue a strategic approach with cutting-edge tactics in litigation, media, training and grassroots mobilization. This enables us to create momentum and maintain control of the terms of the debate in each case.

But we could not execute this strategy without support from people who share our passion for liberty. Your contribution enables us to stand toe-to-toe with our adversaries and lets them know that we have the resources necessary to get the job done.

It’s no wonder we look forward to each new case and no wonder David can slay Goliath time and again.

Chip Mellor is IJ’s president and general counsel.

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