Press Releases

  • March 4, 2021

    A SWAT team destroyed a Texas home and refused to pay for the damage. Now the homeowner is fighting back.

    Lawsuit argues that when the police “break it,” they must “buy it.”

    McKinney, Tex.—Last summer, Vicki Baker woke up one morning to every homeowner’s worst nightmare: the night before, a fugitive had taken refuge in her second home, and after a standoff, the police SWAT team used tear gas grenades, explosives and an armored vehicle to utterly destroy the home. They called it “shock and awe.” The…

  • March 4, 2021    |   Immunity and Accountability

    Arlington, Virginia—This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether to grant review in Oliva v. Nivar, a police accountability case. If review is denied, more than 20,000 federal police in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana will be free to violate the Constitution, no matter how egregious their conduct. José Oliva is a Vietnam veteran with…

  • March 3, 2021    |   First Amendment

    Threat of Nonprofit Donor Harassment Spotlighted in U.S. Supreme Court Case

    Would you want the government to collect and potentially share your name and address with those who hate what you stand for?

    Institute for Justice files amicus brief to protect donor privacy Arlington, Virginia—Imagine being a supporter of Planned Parenthood living in the Bible Belt, or a supporter of the NRA living in San Francisco. Would you want your identity disclosed to government officials who might misuse that information or allow it to be leaked to the…

  • March 3, 2021    |   Private Property

    Lawsuit Challenges New York City’s Abusive Building Code Fines and Fees

    NYC Buildings Dept. levied $11,000 in fines on Queens homeowner for building a pigeon coop. Now he is fighting back.

    In 2016, Queens homeowner Joe Corsini came home to find a piece of paper on his door. It was a notice from the city. He was being fined $3,000 because he moved his pigeon coop from his backyard to his roof and didn’t realize he needed a building permit. Joe was frustrated, but not deterred.…

  • March 1, 2021    |   Immunity and Accountability

    Arlington, Va.—Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) reintroduced the Ending Qualified Immunity Act today, a bill that would make it much easier for individuals to sue government employees who violate their constitutional rights. The Institute for Justice is proud to endorse this bill as an important and long overdue solution for fixing the problem with government accountability that…

  • February 26, 2021    |   Immunity and Accountability

    Brownback Case Is NOT Over: What Happened Yesterday in the Police Brutality Case and What Happens Next

    Student Assaulted by Law Enforcement Officers Will Have Key Part of Case Heard by Federal Appeals Court

    Arlington, Virginia—Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Brownback v. King, a police brutality case involving an innocent college student, James King, who was brutally beaten in an unprovoked assault by members of a state-federal task force. On first glance, many presumed yesterday’s opinion ended James King’s legal quest to hold the officers…

  • February 26, 2021    |   Immunity and Accountability

    Arlington, Virginia—In an appeal filed on February 18, the Institute for Justice is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to examine the question of whether federal judges have unfettered discretion to unilaterally inject their own arguments or legal theories into cases where state action is challenged and reaffirm that the federal courts cannot act as advocates…

  • February 25, 2021

    Washington Supreme Court rules the state cannot make innocent activity a felony

    Decision strikes down Washington’s zero-tolerance drug law, which made even accidental possession, a felony

    Today, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the state cannot make innocent conduct illegal. In doing so, it struck down Washington’s felony drug possession statute, RCW 69.50.4013, because it criminalizes any and all drug possession, even when the person unknowingly possesses an illegal drug. The case is State v. Blake, No. 96873-0.  The case concerned…

  • February 25, 2021    |   Immunity and Accountability

    Arlington, Virginia—Today, in a case involving a college student beaten by law enforcement officers in an unprovoked attack, the U.S. Supreme Court refused the government’s request to create a new kind of immunity for the officers.  Instead, it sent the case against the officers back to a federal appeals court to decide whether claims brought in…

  • February 25, 2021    |   Private Property

    Homeowner Facing $100,000 Parking Violation Sues Florida Town for “Excessive Fines”

    Legal challenge asks Florida courts to rule that sky-high fines for minor violations violate the state constitution

    West Palm Beach, Fla.—The town of Lantana has practically robbed Sandy Martinez of the value of her home through excessive fines, mostly as a result of the way she parks her own cars in her own driveway. One parking violation, assessed daily for over a year, totals more than $100,000. The total amount the town…

  • February 24, 2021    |   Economic Liberty

    Lincoln, Neb.—The city of Lincoln has amended the cottage food ordinance that last year prompted a lawsuit by the Institute for Justice (IJ) and home baker Cindy Harper, in partnership with Husch Blackwell LLP. In 2019, Cindy helped convince state lawmakers to adopt LB 304, which reformed Nebraska’s regulations for the home-based sale of shelf-stable…

  • February 16, 2021    |   Immunity and Accountability

    By a vote of 39-29, the New Mexico House of Representatives approved a landmark bill on Tuesday that would let individuals sue government agencies for violating their rights. Critically, the proposed New Mexico Civil Rights Act (HB 4) would eliminate “qualified immunity” as a legal defense.  Under qualified immunity, government officials can only be held…

  • February 16, 2021    |   Economic Liberty

    National Food Freedom Advocate Endorses Bill That Would Expand Food Freedom in South Carolina

    Bill would create small businesses and new local food choices by making it easier for South Carolinians to sell all homemade foods

    South Carolina is one step closer to taking a major step forward for food entrepreneurs and the “buy local” movement with the introduction of S. 506, which would expand the types of homemade foods South Carolinians can sell their neighbors to all shelf-stable foods, like jams, jellies, soup mixes and more. The legislation would also…

  • February 16, 2021    |   Private Property

    Sierra Vista Residents Sue City to Keep Their Homes in Place

    Residents again facing eviction after city refuses to consider legalizing homes that have been in place for years

    Sierra Vista, Ariz.—Staring down the possibility of homelessness, three Sierra Vista residents ordered to move their RV homes sued the city today. The suit comes just days after the city council chose to enforce eviction orders initially issued in 2020. The Institute for Justice (IJ), which has been working with the homeowners since last summer,…

  • February 11, 2021    |   Economic Liberty

    Seven Wisconsinites Challenge State Ban on Sale of Homemade, Shelf-Stable Foods

    This Valentine’s Day, an unconstitutional ban on shelf-stable food sales is limiting Wisconsin’s cottage food producers

    Thinking of buying your sweetheart chocolates this Valentine’s Day? They better not be homemade, or you will be breaking the law. Although Wisconsin prides itself on fostering fresh and locally made food, it has one of the most restrictive laws on selling homemade food in the country. That’s why yesterday afternoon, seven Wisconsinites and the…

  • February 10, 2021

    In Precedent-Setting Decision, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Shines Light on Controversial Forfeiture Records

    Ruling allows reporter to request records of successful bidders at public auctions of property forfeited by law enforcement

    Harrisburg, Pa.—Today, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court struck a blow for transparency and good government when it ruled that the names of successful bidders at public auctions of property seized and forfeited by law enforcement are public records that must be disclosed. Today’s ruling is a victory for the LNP | LancasterOnline and its reporter, Carter…

  • February 10, 2021    |   Private Property

    New Report: Forfeiture Doesn’t Work to Combat Crime but Is Used to Raise Revenue

    Five-state Study Provides Fresh Evidence That “Policing for Profit” Does Not Work as Advertised

    Arlington, Va.—Across the country, law enforcement agencies use forfeiture to take billions of dollars in cash, cars and homes under the guise of fighting crime. Yet a new study released today by the Institute for Justice (IJ), “Does Forfeiture Work?,” demonstrates that state forfeiture programs do not help police fight crime. Instead, the study indicates…

  • February 9, 2021    |   Educational Choice

    Tennessee Parents Ask Tennessee Supreme Court to Protect Education Savings Accounts for 2021-22

    A Chancery Court injunction prevents the state from readying the ESA program ahead of the upcoming school year even if the program survives the constitutional challenge

    Last night, Natu Bah and Builguissa Diallo, two parents who partnered with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to defend the Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program from a constitutional challenge levied against it in February, filed a motion with the Tennessee Supreme Court to ensure Tennessee families can use Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) in the…

  • February 8, 2021    |   Private Property

    Late last week, Rep. Sonya Harper filed the Illinois Vegetable Garden Protection Act (HB 633), which would preserve and protect the right of all Illinoisans to “cultivate vegetable gardens on their own property, or on the property of another with the permission of the owner, in any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of this…

  • February 8, 2021    |   Economic Liberty

    National Food Freedom Advocate Announces Support of Bill Expanding Food Freedom in New Mexico

    New Mexico has one of the most restrictive homemade food laws in the country, a dubious distinction HB 177 would fix

    Albuquerque bans the sale of home-baked goods and New Mexicans living outside its largest city suffer from onerous regulations that make it difficult to start a homemade, or “cottage foods” business. A new bill being introduced Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. MST would permit New Mexican entrepreneurs in any city to start their own home-based food…

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