Michael Bindas

Senior Attorney


University of Pennsylvania Law School, J.D., 2001
United States Military Academy, B.S., 1995


Hon. Rhesa H. Barksdale, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Michael Bindas is a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice (IJ) and leads IJ’s educational choice team. In this role, he oversees a talented group of IJ attorneys who help policymakers design constitutionally defensible educational choice programs and who defend educational choice programs in courtrooms nationwide. He joined IJ in 2005.

Michael argued for the Carson and Nelson families at the U.S. Supreme Court in Carson v. Makin, in which the Court held Maine’s exclusion of religious options from its educational choice program unconstitutional under the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S Constitution. He was also part of IJ’s Supreme Court litigation team in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, in which the Court invalidated a similar exclusion from a Montana educational choice program. Michael led IJ’s defense of the Choice Scholarship Program for elementary and secondary students in Douglas County, Colorado, and he successfully challenged Washington’s denial of special education services to children in religious schools, as well as the state’s exclusion of sectarian options from its state work study program. 

Prior to leading IJ’s educational choice team, Michael litigated extensively to secure economic liberty, property rights, and freedom of speech throughout the nation. He was counsel of record at the U.S. Supreme Court for Kimbrough Fine Wine & Spirits in Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas, a successful challenge to Tennessee’s durational residency requirement for retail liquor licenses. He also led successful challenges to the municipal sign codes of St. Louis, Mo. and Norfolk, Va., after those cities attempted to silence protests of their abusive eminent domain practices.

Prior to joining IJ, Michael spent three years as an attorney with Perkins Coie LLP. 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.

Michael's Cases

Educational Choice

Ohio School Choice

Two of Ohio’s most popular educational choice programs are under attack. This IJ suit seeks to defend these programs, which tens of thousands of Ohio students depend on.

Educational Choice

Washington Work Study

Summit Christian Academy wanted to hire college students to be tutors under the state’s work-study program, but Washington officials barred the academy from doing so, simply because it’s a religious school. After IJ got involved…

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Michael's Research & Reports

Educational Choice

12 Myths and Realities About Private Educational Choice Programs

Educational choice programs—defined broadly as programs that provide parents with financial aid to help their children opt out of the traditional public school system—are a hallmark of meaningful educational reform. Yet despite widespread news coverage…

L.A. vs. Small Business

Economic Liberty

L.A. vs. Small Business

Los Angeles entrepreneurs are being strangled by red tape, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for entrepreneurs to earn an honest living in the City of Angels.

Michael's Amicus Briefs

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Michael's News, Articles & Publications

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Michael's Hearings

Maine School Choice Oral Argument

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • December 08, 2021

On behalf of three Maine families, IJ and the First Liberty Institute filed a challenge to Maine’s exclusion of religious options from the state’s school choice program. Our clients all lived in “tuitioning towns,” which offer tuition payments for students to attend the public or private high schools of their choice instead of maintaining public high schools of their own. Our clients wanted to send their children to otherwise qualified religious schools, but a state law prohibited towns from paying tuition to those schools. Read More