Two IJ-WA Cases Honored as “Lawsuits of the Year”

February 1, 2005

February 2005

Two IJ-WA Cases Honored as “Lawsuits of the Year”

By Jeanette M. Petersen

Since opening its doors in early 2003, the Institute for Justice Washington Chapter (IJ-WA) has been working tirelessly to make a name for itself in and around the state of Washington. The December/January 2005 issue of Washington Law & Politics has just made this job a bit easier.

The cover of the most recent Law & Politics issue prominently features the IJ-WA’s bagel case (Ballen v. City of Redmond) and reads, “BAGELS BUSTED! The sandwich-board litigation and other lawsuits of the year.” Inside, the magazine features stories of 12 prominent cases pending in Washington courts, including two IJ-WA cases—its bagel case and its African hairbraiding case, Diaw v. Washington Department of Licensing.

The profiles of both the bagel and hairbraiding cases are witty and informative. Entitled “Bagels for Free Speech,” the article discussing IJ-WA’s sandwich-board litigation explains that after Dennis Ballen displayed a 3-by-2-foot sign advertising his bagel shop, Blazing Bagels, “[i]ndigestion soon followed.” Although the City of Redmond informed Ballen that it bans most portable signs, it made exceptions for politics, land use and real estate advertising. As the article notes, two federal judges have ruled that Redmond’s portable sign ban is unconstitutional. Despite these adverse rulings, however, the City of Redmond has appealed the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In “Red-Tape Tangle,” Law & Politics reported that IJ-WA client Benta Diaw was “[w]orried about getting busted for braiding with intent to style” when she sued the Washington Department of Licensing and the Washington State Cosmetology, Barbering, Aesthetics and Manicuring Advisory Board. Although the State is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit, IJ-WA is fighting the dismissal. Quoting an IJ-WA staff attorney, Law & Politics explained, “‘Without the adoption of a formal rule or court ruling excluding African braiders from the cosmetology regime, braiders like Benta remain subject to the whims of government officials . . . .’”

Law & Politics has been described as a local version of Mad magazine mixed with The Harvard Law Review and The New Yorker. While many lawyers in the state read the four-color glossy magazine, it also attracts an interesting blend of readers ranging from corporate CEOs to political junkies. In the past three years, it has won several awards for editorial excellence, including many first-place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. IJ-WA was honored to have its lawsuits featured in the magazine’s pages.Jeanette M. Petersen is an IJ-WA staff attorney.

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