Justin Pearson is the Institute’s Florida Office Managing Attorney and oversees the Institute’s national economic liberty efforts. Justin litigates constitutional challenges in trial and appellate courts around the nation, and he has dedicated his career to defending the rights of small business owners. Justin’s current cases include a major First Amendment challenge brought on behalf of a Maryland dairy farmer against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regulations requiring that pure skim milk shall not be labeled as skim milk unless additives are injected into the skim milk and must instead be labeled as “imitation.”
Justin’s recent work at IJ includes obtaining a victory against the State of Florida at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to vindicate the right of a small, all-natural dairy creamery to tell the truth on its labels, which was the first time in history that this type of First Amendment challenge to a food standard of identity prevailed. Justin also recently obtained a victory in Arkansas when a state court ruled that Little Rock’s ban on taxi competition violated a provision in the Arkansas Constitution that had not been successfully relied upon in over fifty years. Additionally, Justin recently represented an aspiring makeup school owner in her successful First Amendment challenge to a North Carolina licensing regulation that only allowed schools to teach makeup if they agreed to spend the majority of their time teaching unrelated subjects.
Justin’s past work at IJ includes successfully defending the Jalali family’s office building in Anaheim, Calif. against a federal civil forfeiture action, litigating a case on behalf of entrepreneur Tom Halsnik and his customers which resulted in the reduction of Tampa’s mandatory minimum limousine fare, representing street vendors in a challenge which resulted in the repeal of Hialeah’s 300-foot ban on competition, and representing sedan businesses who wanted to offer Groupon deals in Portland, Ore., which led to the repeal of the ban.
In addition to litigation, Justin has testified to numerous Florida Senate and House committees on issues ranging from the constitutional implications of occupational licensing laws to the need for civil forfeiture reform, and provisions suggested by Justin to better protect property rights have been enacted into law. On the local level, Justin has successfully obtained municipal code revisions allowing greater access for food trucks.
Prior to joining IJ, Justin founded and managed his own law practice to advocate for small business owners, and Justin’s law practice was successful for many years before he made the decision to join IJ in 2012 to better fight against government power gone awry.
Justin received his law degree, cum laude, from the University of Miami in 2002, where he was the research and writing editor for, and was published in, the University of Miami Business Law Review. While in law school, Justin interned for Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Gerald D. Hubbart. Justin received his undergraduate degree in business management from North Carolina State University. In December, 2017, Justin was honored by the Daily Business Review and Law.com for being one of South Florida’s “Most Effective Lawyers.”
Outside of IJ, Justin is on the Executive Board for the Federalist Society’s Miami Lawyers Chapter, is on the James Madison Institute’s Miami Board of Advisors, and is a member of the American Enterprise Institute’s Leadership Network.