The Barber Shelter first opened its doors over 30 years ago, providing ...
The Barber Shelter first opened its doors over 30 years ago, providing overnight refuge to people who are temporarily homeless and have nowhere else to go. It is the only ...homeless shelter in Wilkes County and sleeps, on average, fewer than a dozen people per night.
In 2020, the Barber Shelter was looking for a new space when a local dentist generously offered his former office building as a location. The space was perfect: It was in an ideal part of town—near the services the shelter’s clients use, far from residential areas—and met each of the town’s zoning requirements. All it needed was a permit.
But the town was not interested in allowing the Barber Shelter to care for the area’s neediest. Instead, it invented bogus reasons to deny the shelter its permit, such as concerns about the shelter’s clients walking on the sidewalk near a busy road. But that is nonsensical; the town requires homeless shelters to have sidewalks and be situated near major roads.
The government’s reasoning meant that there was nowhere in town for the shelter to go. But the Constitution prohibits governments from ruling by paradox, and so the Barber Shelter teamed up with IJ to fight back. We sued the town, and, a few days before Christmas 2021, a federal court sided with IJ and the shelter, concluding that “deference cannot be an excuse for the Court to abdicate its duty to protect the constitutional rights of all people.”
Victory in hand, the Barber Shelter got to work renovating the property.
It now provides short-term housing for up to 10 men on the first floor and six women and a family on the second floor. There are kitchens, common areas, laundry facilities, and other necessities to provide comfort during a difficult time.
The opening ceremony memorialized an important principle: Government shouldn’t stand in the way of private citizens using their own property and initiative to help the least fortunate in their communities.[+] Show More
Gov't Wants Private Cameras for Public Surveillance
Horseplay Lands Teacher in Trouble with Dept. of Ed
Freedom of speech is a cherished Constitutional protection, framed in ...
Freedom of speech is a cherished Constitutional protection, framed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Teaching is one of many forms of free speech and falls under ...the First Amendment's protections for the right to speech within their occupation. But the State of Minnesota disagrees and Leda Mox, a certified equine massage specialist, now faces the prospect of having to pay exorbitant fees unless her speech is approved by a government agency.
Leda loves horses, so much so that she has turned her passion into a business teaching others how to care for them through the practice of equine massage. Horses, much like any human, can benefit from massage by alleviating muscle pain, training for athletic events, or just to ease tension and relax. Leda is an expert in the subject and has a bachelor’s degree in equine science as well as being certified in equine massage since 1997, when she skipped her high school graduation to attend one of the only certification programs in the country at the time.
The Office of Higher Education doesn’t care about Leda’s credentials or her long history of success in the field. They are demanding Leda complete a thirty-page application, pay exorbitant fees up front, and then annually to maintain her license, and furnish the state with a great deal of information – most of which is completely inapplicable to her small business.
Leda, who has partnered with the Institute for Justice, has now filed a lawsuit against the state claiming a violation of her First Amendment rights and arguing the state has no right to demand their approval to freely speak on a subject which she is clearly an expert in.[+] Show More
Speech About Legal Weed Is FORBIDDEN in This State
If it’s legal to sell a product, it’s also legal to talk about that ...
If it’s legal to sell a product, it’s also legal to talk about that product. But not in Mississippi—at least not if the product is medical marijuana.
In 2022 Mississippi joined ...the growing number of states to legalize medical marijuana. And entrepreneur Clarence Cocroft recognized that a medical marijuana dispensary would be an excellent business opportunity. He opened Tru Source Medical Cannabis, LLC—the first state-licensed, Black-owned medical marijuana dispensary in Mississippi. The family-operated business has been successful, but an advertising ban imposed by the state Department of Health (DOH) has severely hampered it.
The Mississippi law legalizing medical marijuana lays out a scheme authorizing the cultivation, tracking, and sale of medical marijuana with a valid prescription. But the law also gives DOH discretion to regulate advertising for dispensaries, and the department has exercised that discretion aggressively: It has completely prohibited dispensaries from advertising and marketing in any media at all. Essentially, dispensaries are only permitted to have signs on their own property and maintain a basic homepage on the web, making it nearly impossible for patients to find the dispensaries best suited to their needs.
Like all entrepreneurs, Clarence wants to tell consumers about his business. He wants to be able to tell patients where it’s located, what he sells, and how much it costs. But he can’t, despite his constitutional right to do so.
The First Amendment protects the right to exchange truthful information about legal products. Medical marijuana is legal in Mississippi and the federal government has said it won’t enforce federal marijuana laws against state-legal medical-marijuana businesses. That means that no law—state or federal—justifies the state’s censorship here. Mississippians have a constitutional right to information that will inform their purchasing decisions. And the state has no interest in interfering with that right. That’s especially true here, where the state’s apparent goal is to manipulate consumers’ behavior by restricting their access to truthful information.
The advertising ban impermissibly harms Clarence’s business because it unconstitutionally restricts his speech. That’s why Clarence has teamed up with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to file a federal lawsuit challenging DOH’s advertising ban. Victory in this case will reaffirm that the First Amendment prevents the state from censoring people who want to speak about legal products and services and ensure entrepreneurs like Clarence can promote their legal businesses.[+] Show More
Mom of Daughter Abused at School Asks SCOTUS to Hear Case
All government employees must respect constitutional rights. School ...
All government employees must respect constitutional rights.
School employees should not be above the law when they physically abuse the children they are there to educate and help grow.
Sonia deserves to ...have her constitutional claims against those who abused her daughter, and those who did nothing about it, heard in court.
The Constitution and the federal civil rights law guarantee it.
Like all new mothers, New Jersey residents Hannah Lovaglio and Erica ...
Like all new mothers, New Jersey residents Hannah Lovaglio and Erica Jedynak each experienced the usual emotional whirlwind during their pregnancies. They had attended prenatal classes, meticulously planned their nurseries, ...and devoured books on parenting. They were determined to give their newborns the best possible start in life. Little did they know that a disquieting surprise awaited them after their babies were born.
Shortly after giving birth, medical staff performed a routine heel prick. Their children’s blood was collected on a card and whisked away to the New Jersey Department of Health’s Newborn Screening Laboratory to be tested for a range of disorders. New Jersey didn’t seek Hannah’s or Erica’s consent first; instead, each got a handout stating that New Jersey law mandated it. But that didn’t raise any red flags for the two: Every state conducts such testing, and they trusted the system.
But Hannah’s and Erica’s real shock came upon learning what New Jersey didn’t disclose.
Unbeknownst to parents, a portion of their baby’s blood remained unused after the screening was complete. And New Jersey had unilaterally decided that it could keep that blood for 23 years. Even worse, New Jersey believed it could use that blood however it saw fit, whether that be selling it to third parties, giving it to law enforcement, or even turning it over to the Pentagon.
Hannah and Erica were appalled. Their top priority was protecting their children’s health and safety. Realizing that they had no idea where their children’s blood might be or what it was being used for only deepened their distress.
Fueled by that concern and a shared sense of outrage, Hannah, Erica, and others have joined forces with the Institute for Justice to file a class action lawsuit, which invokes two fundamental claims under the U.S. Constitution. First, it raises a Fourth Amendment claim, arguing that the state’s retention of the children’s blood without consent was an unconstitutional seizure. And second, it raises a due process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment, asserting that the state’s creation of its blood database unconstitutionally infringed upon Hannah and Erica’s fundamental right to make medical decisions for their children.
What they ask for is simple: An order telling New Jersey to either obtain informed consent from parents to hold on to the remaining blood, or else return or destroy it. Their fight is part of the Institute’s Project on the Fourth Amendment, dedicated to safeguarding Americans’ foundational right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures. In the eyes of Hannah and Erica, this fight is not just for their children but for all children born in New Jersey, to ensure that their future is not subject to the unknown whims of the state.[+] Show More
Historic Black Neighborhood Threatened with Eminent Domain
Family homes that have been handed down generations, nestled among ...
Family homes that have been handed down generations, nestled among century-old oak trees. A charming, renovated two-story house on the National Register of Historic Places. Church property, donated by parishioners, ...that serves as the gathering place for the community.
What do these places have in common? All of them are part of a “slum” or “blighted area”—at least, that is, according to the city of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. This past April, Ocean Springs declared all of these—alongside dozens of other well-maintained homes and properties—to be “slum and blighted” in order to designate them as an “urban renewal” area. That designation authorizes the city to use eminent domain to forcibly take away the homes and businesses within the city’s so-called “urban renewal area.”
The city also didn’t tell any residents or property owners that they declared them blighted—or that the blight designation would be final and unappealable if they failed to appeal within 10 days. Unsurprisingly, since no one knew, no one appealed.
Cynthia Fisher has lived in the Railroad District for 70 years. In 1980, she moved around the corner from the home she grew up in, which is now declared “blighted.” At least seven family members, including one of her daughters, live just a few steps away. The houses in her family are over 100 years old; six generations of Cynthia’s family grew up in their Robinson Street house.
Now, Cynthia, along with other home and business owners whose properties have been blighted, are teaming up with the Institute for Justice to launch a federal lawsuit. Well-cared-for property should never be blighted, and blight designations should never be passed in secret. The U.S. Constitution bars government from depriving people of their property rights without due process, but that is exactly what Ocean Springs did.[+] Show More
San Francisco Must Make It Easier to Start a Small Biz
Cities Work is the Institute for Justice’s nonpartisan regulatory ...
Cities Work is the Institute for Justice’s nonpartisan regulatory consulting initiative committed to increasing economic opportunity and fostering entrepreneurship in cities across the country. We partner with cities to make ...it cheaper, faster, and simpler to start a small business—all free of charge.
IRONY: Citizen Arrested for Calling Mayor "Fascist" at Council Meeting
The right to criticize the government is a pillar of our ...
The right to criticize the government is a pillar of our constitutional republic—embodied in the text and history of the First Amendment. And yet, across the country that right continues ...to be violated by unaccountable government agents. One particularly blatant example of this abuse happened recently in the small town of Newton, Iowa, where a resident named Noah Petersen was arrested for criticizing his mayor and police department.
Petersen, frustrated by the behavior of a local police officer and the police department’s treatment of residents, chose to express his concerns at city council meetings during the public comment period. However, instead of being heard—as was his right—he was arrested twice for “disrupting a lawful assembly.” When the city brought these charges to trial, a judge ruled in Petersen’s favor and confirmed that Petersen had a constitutional right to voice his concerns at the meeting.
Petersen, who has partnered with the Institute for Justice, has now filed a lawsuit against the mayor, the police chief, and the City of Newton. The lawsuit claims violations of his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, arguing that his arrest was without probable cause and that he was unfairly singled out for his public comments.
Petersen’s case also challenges the city’s rules against criticizing government officials, asserting that they infringe upon the First Amendment. His fight forms part of IJ’s mission to protect free speech against government retaliation. The lawsuit is also part of IJ’s Project on Immunity and Accountability, which aims to ensure that government officials are not above the Constitution.[+] Show More