A Legislative Voice for Freedom
By Chip MellorA key to IJ’s success has been building off our institutional strengths while keeping a laser-like focus on our mission. That is what IJ did as we expanded our grassroots activism efforts—applying the lessons we learned from our own grassroots battles to train homeowners, entrepreneurs, parents and activists nationwide to better fight for their rights. That is what we did when we added strategic research to our litigation efforts—enhancing our work in the court of law by providing first-rate social science research to support our constitutional claims. And that is what we are doing yet again—learning from our history and the insights we gained while creating yet another dynamic means to achieve results—this time in the legislative arena.
From time to time since our founding in 1991, the Institute for Justice has pursued legislative reforms for our clients: clearing the way, for instance, for Freedom Cabs to take to the streets of Denver, and doing away with regulatory roadblocks that kept African hairbraiders in Mississippi from pursuing a productive livelihood. Our institutional reputation for honesty and principled advocacy opened these legislative doors.
In IJ’s early years, these instances were few and far between. But as our reputation has grown, we increasingly see our cases and the constitutional issues they seek to address being taken up by policymakers at the federal, state and local levels. This has resulted not only in IJ needing to become expert in the ways legislation gets enacted (so we can best represent the interests of our clients), but also in the actual development of a very talented in-house counsel on legislative matters—our very own Lee McGrath.
Chip Mellor is the Institute's president and general counsel.