Press Releases

  • March 19, 2021    |   Economic Liberty

    Federal Court Rules Coast Guard Violated Federal Law by Denying a Captain His Right to Earn a Living

    Coast Guard improperly interpreted its own regulations to bar the captain from taking an exam required to register as a Great Lakes pilot

    WASHINGTON—In a battle waged in a federal courtroom rather than the high seas, an experienced merchant mariner yesterday bested the Coast Guard and a private association, moving him a step closer to piloting ships on the Great Lakes. D.C. District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled that the Coast Guard violated federal law in denying Captain…

  • March 18, 2021    |   Economic Liberty

    SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Tx.—Late last year, Texas Judge Arturo Cisneros Nelson struck down South Padre Island’s anti-competitive 12-permit cap and restaurant permission scheme, declaring them unconstitutional and ending two years of litigation. This was great news for area food truck owners, who began taking steps to take full advantage of the busy travel season kicking…

  • March 17, 2021    |   Private Property

    More than a dozen influential nonprofit organizations from across the political spectrum sent a coalition letter this week calling on Congress “to curb law enforcement’s power to use and abuse the practice of civil forfeiture by enacting strong reforms.” Under civil forfeiture, law enforcement can permanently confiscate property from innocent owners without ever charging them…

  • March 17, 2021    |   Educational Choice

    Arlington, Virginia—Last week, a collection of ten different “friends of the court” urged the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a school choice case arising out of Maine. The question before the Court is whether states may bar families from participating in student-aid programs simply because they send their children to schools that provide religious instruction.…

  • March 16, 2021    |   Private Property

    Washington Supreme Court to Hear Significant Excessive Fines Case

    Seattle Charged $547 to a Homeless Man After Impounding the Truck in Which He Lived

    SEATTLE—This morning, the Washington Supreme Court will hear argument in City of Seattle v. Long, a case concerning the Excessive Fines Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The court will consider whether the clause prohibits the city of Seattle from imposing a $547 charge on a homeless man after the city impounded the truck in which…

  • March 15, 2021    |   Immunity and Accountability

    Texas Federal Judge Tosses Qualified Immunity Defense in First Amendment Retaliation Case

    Castle Hills, Tx. woman wins first round in a constitutional suit to vindicate political speech rights

    On Friday Sylvia Gonzalez—a retiree and former Castle Hills, Texas, councilmember thrown in jail for speaking out against her local government—got the news she has waited more than a year to hear. In a powerful ruling issued Friday afternoon, Judge David Alan Ezra dismissed the city’s motion to dismiss and ruled that her case alleging…

  • March 11, 2021    |   Private Property

    Lawsuit: Florida Parents Partner with IJ to Shut Down Dystopian “Predictive Policing” Program

    Institute for Justice lawsuit alleges that Pasco police harass and fine homeowners to make their “lives miserable until they move or sue.” Today, they sued.

    Resources Press Conference Video Read the lawsuit Read the in-depth media backgrounder Download photos Pasco County, Florida’s future policing program is as dystopian as it is unconstitutional. Under the guise of “predictive policing,” for the last 10 years the Pasco County sheriff’s department has used a crude computer algorithm to identify and target supposed “future…

  • March 9, 2021    |   Economic Liberty

    New Lawsuit Seeks to End Colorado’s Transportation Monopoly Law

    Immigrant Entrepreneur Blocked from Starting Shuttle Service by Existing Shuttle Companies Under Colorado Monopoly Law

    Arlington, Va.—Abdallah Batayneh just wants to start a new shuttle service in Steamboat Springs, but Colorado law allows existing transportation companies to veto new businesses in their regions. Today, in order to clear the way for himself and other entrepreneurs in Colorado, Abdallah is partnering with the Institute for Justice (IJ) in a lawsuit to…

  • March 8, 2021    |   Economic Liberty

    Lincoln, Neb.—Homemade food producers will soon be free to sell their goods within Lincoln without being forced to follow burdensome regulations by the city. Under an amended ordinance, set to take effect on March 15, cottage food producers registered under LB 304 simply have to register with the city, and inspections are only allowed under…

  • 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…

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