John Kramer is widely recognized as freedom’s PR man.
Since joining the Institute for Justice in 1992, Kramer’s strategic media relations work—coupled with IJ’s litigation—has protected homes and small businesses nationwide from eminent domain abuse, and secured the rights of entrepreneurs to earn an honest living when the government sought to shut them out. Kramer’s work in the court of public opinion helped ensure that First Amendment protections were extended to the Internet and he directed the successful PR effort to strike down a federal law that made it a felony to compensate bone marrow donors—a victory that has the potential to save thousands of American lives each year.
Applying market-based principles, he has helped the Institute for Justice and many organizations across the Freedom Movement to personalize, humanize and dramatize their stories of individual liberty thereby more effectively conveying them through the mainstream media. Kramer directed the media relations in 10 landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases:
Swedenburg v. Kelly, in which the Supreme Court vindicated economic liberty by permitting the interstate shipment of wine directly to consumers;
Kelo v. City of New London, the eminent domain case which led to a nationwide backlash against this often-abused power of government;
District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court struck down D.C.’s ban on hand guns and held that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for private use;
Arizona Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, in which the Supreme Court struck down the “matching funds” provision of Arizona’s campaign finance “Clean Elections” Act as an unconstitutional violation of free speech.
Timbs v. Indiana, a unanimous opinion by Justice Ginsburg in which the Court held that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause applies in state and local proceedings. The ruling prohibited states and local governments from imposing excessive fines, fees and forfeitures, just as it prohibits the federal government from doing so.
Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair, a 7-2 opinion which was a broadside indictment of economic protectionism. IJ successfully challenged Tennessee’s law that requires someone to reside in the state for two years before they can receive a liquor license and 10 years before that license can be renewed.
Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which held that the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to discriminate against religious parents or schools if policymakers choose to enact a private educational choice program to empower parents to choose the educational environment best suited to their own children.
Brownback v. King, which will decide whether to create a huge loophole that would allow law enforcement officers and other government officials who violate the constitutional rights of Americans to escape accountability for their actions.
In 2018, Kramer received The Thomas Roe Award, the highest honor presented by the State Policy Network in recognition of those whose achievements have greatly advanced the free market philosophy through leadership, innovation and accomplishment in public policy.
His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The New York Times, among other news outlets and was featured in the 2017 movie Little Pink House, a major Hollywood movie starring Catherine Keener, which tells the behind-the-scenes story of IJ’s Kelo eminent domain case. (Kramer and his media relations work are portrayed in the movie. He was paid a fifth of bourbon for his life rights for the movie, the same amount paid to John Wayne when he appeared on the television show, The Beverly Hillbillies.)
His work spotlighting eminent domain abuse was featured by Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. His media relations work, video script writing and billboard campaigns for the Institute for Justice have earned him some of the top awards given by the Public Relations Society of America, the International Association of Business Communicators, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and other organizations. Kramer was featured as a “Voice of Authority” on public relations and the law in the nation’s leading public relations textbook, “The Practice of Public Relations,” by Fraser Seitel.
Kramer received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from New Mexico State University. In 2014, NMSU selected him as a distinguished alumnus, an honor given to fewer than 450 alumni since the award’s inception in 1956. He received his graduate training in journalism at the University of Nevada-Reno, where he taught introductory journalism.
In addition to being an accomplished oil painter, Kramer’s acclaimed novel, Blythe—an allegory on the spread of AIDS across society and the search for a cure—was released in 2017. That novel is now being turned into an opera titled, Isabella.
Kramer is a member of the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C.