Michael Bindas is a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice (IJ), which he joined in 2005. He litigates in courts nationwide to protect freedom of speech, economic liberty, educational choice and other individual liberties. He also directs IJ’s National Food Freedom Initiative.
Michael has extensive experience protecting the free speech rights of political and commercial speakers. He successfully challenged the municipal sign codes of St. Louis, Mo. and Norfolk, Va., after those cities attempted to silence protests of their abusive eminent domain practices. He helped defend the free speech and association rights of the No New Gas Tax initiative campaign when several Washington municipalities tried to use campaign finance laws to regulate media commentary concerning the initiative. And he vindicated the right of McMinnville, Ore., dairy farmer Christine Anderson to advertise the raw milk she sells at Cast Iron Farm.
Michael has also litigated extensively to secure educational choice for students and parents throughout the country. He led IJ’s defense of the Choice Scholarship Program for elementary and secondary students in Douglas County, Colo., and he successfully challenged Washington’s denial of special education services to children in religious schools. Currently, Michael is challenging Washington’s exclusion of “sectarian” options from its State Work Study Program.
In the economic liberty arena, Michael defeated the City of Seattle’s attempt to use an arbitrary land use regulation to shut down Blayne and Julie McAferty’s bed-and-breakfast. He currently represents brothers Jim and Cliff Courtney in a challenge to the government-created ferry monopoly on Washington’s Lake Chelan, as well as Doug and Mary Ketchum in a challenge to Tennessee’s durational residency requirements for retail liquor licenses.
Since 2013, moreover, Michael has led IJ’s National Food Freedom Initiative: a nationwide campaign to protect the right of Americans to produce, procure, and consume the foods of their choice. The initiative has successfully challenged Florida’s censorship of the term “skim milk,” irrational restrictions on the sale of “cottage” foods in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and Oregon’s prohibition on the advertisement of raw milk. The initiative’s current cases include challenges to Texas’s requirement that craft brewers give away their distribution rights for free, the FDA’s irrational restriction of the term “skim milk,” New Jersey’s prohibition on the sale of cottage foods, and Minnesota’s restriction on the use of out-of-state grapes by farm wineries. The initiative has achieved numerous legislative victories, as well, and has published two major reports: The Attack on Food Freedom and Flour Power.
Prior to joining IJ, Michael spent three years as an attorney with Perkins Coie LLP, where he litigated constitutional and False Claims Act issues. He is a former law clerk to Judge Rhesa Hawkins Barksdale of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and served as an engineer officer in the United States Army and Pennsylvania Army National Guard before beginning his legal career.
Michael received his law degree cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2001, where he served as Articles Editor for the Journal of Constitutional Law and was elected to the Order of the Coif. He received his undergraduate degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1995.