What It’s Like to Work with the Best: The IJ Experience
By Lawrence W. Reed
Long before the occasion arose to work on a case together, I thought of the Institute for Justice as a first-rate outfit performing yeoman service on the front lines of critical battles. In my capacity as a trustee of a charitable foundation, I supported regular grants to IJ. I knew Chip Mellor long before he founded IJ and knew that whatever organization he would be involved with would succeed in spades.
So how could such an off-the-chart assessment change by a hands-on, working relationship with IJ?
It only got better.
Winning a great battle for the First Amendment against a powerful teacher union was sweet enough, but equally satisfying was the opportunity to work closely with the IJ team for two full years. The victory was so firm and unequivocal that the MEA may still not know what hit them, but I’m happy to tell them. It was one of liberty’s most effective freight trains—the Institute for Justice.
“The victory was so firm and unequivocal that the MEA may still not know what hit them, but I’m happy to tell them. It was one of liberty’s most effective freight trains—the Institute for Justice.”
From the start, the IJ team put the MEA on the defensive. The very fact that the Institute took our case on a pro bono basis must have prompted consternation among union officials, who undoubtedly hoped the Mackinac Center would divert scarce resources from its educational policy research to wage a costly court fight. Clark Neily, the IJ attorney who led our defense, knows how to make ’em sweat. The answers his cogent questioning coaxed out of the union president under oath thoroughly undermined the union’s case and provided us with statements that will resonate and entertain for years to come.
Clark and his IJ team were always quick on their feet, responsive to every turn of events, accurate in their judgments and professional in every way. They are motivated by the noble ideals of liberty and limited, constitutional government. In other words, they are the right people at the right time and at the right organization, winning victories for all the right causes. We can’t thank them enough, and they deserve both praise and support from all who share in those noble ideals.
Just as Dracula flees at the sign of a cross, I suspect the MEA will not want to tangle again with our friends at IJ.
Lawrence W. Reed is president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.