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Help ordinary Americans fight outrageous government abuse

Red Tape Restricts D.C.

  • March 12, 2019    |   Economic Liberty

    Just like all Americans, D.C. residents deserve the chance to start a small business–to take risks as innovative entrepreneurs looking to better their own lives. But unfortunately for them, D.C. agencies have adopted onerous rules and regulations that make doing so difficult for innovators and would-be business owners in the District. That’s why, with the…

  • March 12, 2019    |   Economic Liberty

    The District’s new rules for childcare workers are going to keep hundreds of hard-working and qualified people from earning an honest living. In December 2016, the D.C. Office of the Superintendent of Education (OSSE) enacted several burdensome education requirements for childcare workers. According to these regulations, all District childcare center directors must earn a bachelor’s…

  • March 12, 2019    |   Economic Liberty

    African-style braiding is a completely natural hair-care process, a safe way for braiders, many of whom are immigrants, to earn a safe and honest living. But throughout Louisiana, braiders are forced to pay huge sums of money for hundreds of hours of unnecessary education, learning a craft at which they are already experts. Before they…

  • March 12, 2019    |   Economic Liberty

    Home baking is a way for entrepreneurs to get started small in their own homes without having to spend tens of thousands of dollars on professional equipment and commercial kitchen space. States across the country have embraced these businesses as job creators and revenue generators, but New Jersey is now the only state to completely…

  • March 12, 2019    |   Economic Liberty

    African-style, natural hair braiders, teaming up with IJ, scored a major victory in Kentucky in 2016 when the Commonwealth passed a law that exempts braiders from needing to get a government-issued license to braid hair. Previously, braiders were forced to take 1,800 hours of unnecessary cosmetology training and spend six months as an apprentice before…

  • March 12, 2019    |   Economic Liberty

    In New Jersey, African-style hair braiders—whose businesses are deeply rooted in cultural traditions that have been handed down through generations—used to be required to undergo 1,200 hours of cosmetology training, simply in order to earn an honest living. But thanks to the efforts of persistent braiders across the Garden State, who teamed up with IJ’s…

  • March 12, 2019    |   Economic Liberty

    In 2017, New Hampshire officially became the 23rd state (now up to 26 states) to allow African-style natural hair braiders to work without a permission slip from the government. At the beginning of 2017, New Hampshire was one of the worst states in the nation for braiders. In order to work legally in the Granite…

  • March 12, 2019    |   Economic Liberty

    Food truck owners in Sarasota County, Fl., scored a victory in 2016 after they teamed up with IJ to fight to reform some of the very worst food-truck laws in the country, bringing tasty opportunity to streets throughout the county. These laws previously included a proximity restriction that prohibited food trucks from operating within 800…

  • March 12, 2019    |   Private Property

    Take action and tell Mayor Hall that you oppose his assault on Pleasant Ridge! Recently, the Institute for Justice won a preliminary injunction in Indiana court for its clients in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood of Charlestown, In., vindicating their right to keep their beloved homes as the case proceeds. For years, Pleasant Ridge residents have…

  • March 12, 2019

    The 15th anniversary of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) is just around the corner, as IJ’s activism team looks forward to continuing its work in the District to improve parents’ access to the best education for their kids! The Opportunity Scholarship Program, which first took effect in 2004, provides need-based scholarships to D.C. children…

  • March 12, 2019

    In Maryland, tasty reform has arrived—thanks to the efforts of passionate home bakers across the state fighting to earn an honest living! Signed by Governor Hogan in June 2018, H.B. 1106 allows cottage-food producers to sell their perfectly safe and delicious goods—like cookies, cakes, and jams—outside of farmers markets. Previously, entrepreneurs were limited by a…

  • March 12, 2019

    In December 2017, the city of Garfield, Nj., declared a large section of its First Ward a “Condemnation Redevelopment Zone”—empowering city officials to use eminent domain for private development, even though many property owners do not wish to sell what they’ve worked so hard to own. The study officially designated many homes and businesses in…

  • March 12, 2019

    In 2016, officials in Emerson, Nj., began targeting property owners in the borough’s Central Business District, planning to use eminent domain to hand the land over to a private developer, JMF Properties, who was already building nearby. Establishing a “Condemnation Redevelopment Area,” the borough claimed that it was attempting to meet its affordable housing obligations…

  • March 12, 2019

    For over three years, residents of the Rolling Mill neighborhood in Cumberland, Md., have battled city officials over redevelopment efforts that would kick them out of their homes—just so that the city can build restaurants and a parking lot. It all started when the city of Cumberland identified Rolling Mill as their ideal spot for…

  • March 12, 2019

    Just an hour northeast of Indianapolis in Yorktown, In., property owners are fighting to keep their homes from being taken from them by eminent domain. The town’s redevelopment plan is pushing homeowners like Ruby Martin, a 90-year-old blind widow of a two-time war veteran, out of the homes they love and have worked so hard…

  • March 12, 2019

    Once upon a time, the state of Wisconsin had some of the worst cottage-food laws in the country, forcing home bakers who simply wanted to sell safe products like cookies and cakes to obtain a license and rent expensive commercial-kitchen space. But in January 2016, the Institute for Justice filed a successful lawsuit on behalf…

  • March 12, 2019

    As of July 2018, bakers in the Bluegrass state can fire up their ovens and legally sell cottage foods—safe, shelf-stable foods made in their own home kitchens—directly to consumers. Thanks to H.B. 263—and to the efforts of passionate home bakers across the state, who joined together to create a coalition, Kentucky Home Bakers, in support…

  • March 12, 2019

    In the aftermath of the universally reviled U.S. Supreme Court case, Kelo v. City of New London, in which the court permitted the use of eminent domain for private development, 44 states have reformed their eminent domain laws. These changes have made it dramatically more difficult for cities to violate citizens’ fundamental private property rights.…

  • July 18, 2017    |   Economic Liberty

    African-style, natural hair braiders in Tennessee are facing major harassment and fines for practicing their craft without a specialty license. Braiders are being fined anywhere from $1,000 to $11,000 merely for operating without a government permission slip. Some have been told that they must shut their doors, leaving them with the tough choice of continuing…

  • July 18, 2017    |   Economic Liberty

    IJ celebrated a victory with hair braiders in Maryland in 2015.  Maryland does not currently regulate African hair braiding, earning it an A in our 2014 50-state report card, Untangling Regulations.  A state senator introduced legislation that would create a specialty license, requiring 200 hours of coursework or a 15-month apprenticeship—but most problematically, it would…

  • July 18, 2017    |   Economic Liberty

    Washington, D.C., has one of the best food-truck scenes in the country. Indeed, the success of the local food truck industry—aided by D.C. bureaucrats’ uncharacteristic decision to avoid strangling it in red tape while it was in its infancy—gave hope to many that D.C. might actually be working to rehabilitate its (well-deserved) reputation as a…

  • July 18, 2017    |   Economic Liberty

    Until September 2015, it was illegal for pushcart vendors to sell any food other than whole produce or packaged frozen desserts in Chicago. The IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship teamed up with street vendors across the city to form the Street Vendors Justice Coalition, to fight for the vendors’ right to earn an honest living. After…

  • July 18, 2017    |   Economic Liberty

    African-style, natural hair braiding is a time-tested practice that is deeply rooted in African cultural heritage.  And it’s totally safe:  it is simply braiding hair.  Yet some states require braiders to obtain cosmetology licenses in order to braid legally, which can require thousands of hours of irrelevant training in using harmful dyes and chemicals—practices braiders…

  • July 18, 2017    |   Economic Liberty

    New Orleanians love food trucks. Yet, despite their enormous popularity, food truck entrepreneurs in the Crescent City faced some of the worst laws in the nation. They could not operate within 600 feet of brick-and-mortar restaurants, had to move every 45 minutes, and were banned entirely from the Central Business District and French Quarter. These…

  • March 8, 2017

    Greetings, activist! At IJ, we know the importance of keeping state and local governments in check. When governments abuse their power, IJ is there fighting to protect property rights, free speech, educational choice and economic liberty. Tell us which of IJ’s four pillars is your favorite and why and you could be featured on IJ’s…

  • March 14, 2016    |   Economic Liberty

    Support braiding freedom!  Contact your state legislator and tell them to vote YES on S.B. 269. For 25 years, IJ has advocated for entrepreneurs’ right to earn an honest living.  We often do this by challenging government-issued licenses that have nothing to do with protecting the public’s health and safety, but everything to do with protecting…

  • February 11, 2016    |   Economic Liberty

    The Institute for Justice, a non-profit, civil liberties law firm, is offering high school students in Florida a chance to win a $500 scholarship and the opportunity to help pass a law and increase economic opportunity in their state.

  • February 10, 2016    |   Economic Liberty

    That’s right. Cookies. In New Jersey, it is illegal to sell baked goods made in your home kitchen. That’s because the state has yet to pass a “cottage food” law that permits small, home-based entrepreneurs to prepare and sell baked goods that are perfectly safe, such as cookies, muffins and breads. This penalizes the many valid…

  • January 22, 2016    |   Private Property

    The problem begins when miniscule local governments have no tax base to pay the bloated costs of their administrations. Rather than balance the books by consolidating with neighboring cities and eliminating redundant services, these governments have turned to treating their citizens like ATMs. In many Missouri towns, their first idea was to take money from…

  • November 11, 2015    |   Private Property

    For decades, Californians faced a double injustice. The state’s redevelopment agencies routinely used eminent domain to seize perfectly fine homes and businesses and transfer them to private developers. Billions of tax dollars would then flow into these developers’ ill-conceived schemes—schemes that often failed to meet expectations. The redevelopment agencies were responsible for at least 200…

  • September 17, 2015    |   Private Property

    Save North Side STL, an organization dedicated to saving 47 homes on the north side of St. Louis from eminent domain, is asking the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) to remove their neighborhood from the list of locations it is considering for its relocation. The NGA is currently considering three other sites—none of which would…

  • September 16, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    When it comes to bad vending laws in the United States, Sarasota County, Fla., takes the cake (and all the other good eats, too). In the world of mobile vending, some local governments enact “proximity bans” that forbid food trucks and carts from operating near brick-and-mortar restaurants. Lawmakers sometimes try to pass these off as…

  • September 16, 2015    |   Private Property

    Civil forfeiture is a legal tactic that allows police and prosecutors to seize cars, homes, and cash. Property owners don’t have to be convicted of a crime to lose their property—in fact, they don’t even have to be charged with one. And it gets worse. Who often gets to keep for their own use the…

  • September 15, 2015    |   Private Property

    Sign the Petition to Stop West Haven Eminent Domain Abuse! Just 50 miles west of the birthplace of the infamous Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London, eminent domain abuse is preparing to strike again. Last summer, the city of West Haven, Conn., approved a plan by developer duo Sheldon Gordon and Ty Miller…

  • December 18, 2014    |   First Amendment

    Wall murals often serve to brighten neighborhoods and bring underutilized spaces to life. But many local governments frown upon this form of speech as they feel the art is sometimes too closely related to the businesses which commissioned it. Then the art becomes “commercial speech,” and is afforded less constitutional protection—even though speech is speech,…

  • December 18, 2014    |   Private Property

    Charlie Birnbaum’s parents—both immigrants and survivors of the Holocaust—left him many things: a love of this country, a deep passion for music and a home right near the boardwalk in Atlantic City. That home—his parents’ foothold in their adopted country—has been a source of love, tragedy and renewal to his family for the past 50…

  • May 21, 2014    |   Private Property

    In February, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Private Property Rights Protection Act (PRPA). . . again. And it again sits before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, which has yet again failed to take action on this important legislation. The bill, H.R. 1944, is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Kelo decision,…

  • May 15, 2014    |   Private Property

    The city of Richmond, Indiana, wants to push property owners off of their land for code violations, but is refusing to tell them what those violations are. Take action now: Tell the Richmond Common Council that property owners have the right to keep what they have worked so hard to own, and, if their properties…

  • February 2, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    The transportation industry has seen a staggering amount of change in recent years, thanks to hard-working and thoughtful entrepreneurs. But regulators and cartels are pumping the brakes. Whether it’s banning tech-savvy ridesharing firms like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, meddling with fares, or artificially constricting the supply of taxi permits so that independent drivers can’t possibly afford to break into…

  • January 30, 2014    |   Private Property

    Eminent domain is for public use – things like roads and schools – but all too often, cities team up with their developer friends to condemn perfectly fine homes and businesses for private development. This is an unconstitutional abuse of eminent domain and it must be stopped. Join the fight to stop eminent domain abuse:…

  • January 29, 2014    |   Economic Liberty Private Property

    Can the government prohibit you from peacefully and productively using your own property to feed your family? The city of Miami Shores, Fla., says yes—as do many other cities across the nation. If your city prohibits vegetable gardens on your property, report it to us today. For 17 years, Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom…

  • January 28, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    UPDATE: On December 2, the city will hear recommendations about an ordinance that would legalize sidewalk vending.  The Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign is holding a rally before the hearing.  Please join them and share this flyer! (En Español) In Los Angeles, the city that brought us the food-truck revolution, traditional sidewalk vending is illegal—turning…

  • January 28, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Love food trucks and street vendors? So do we. But unfortunately, some brick-and-mortar restaurants and establishments view the legislative process as a way to stifle street vendors in order to protect themselves from competition, by pushing for bans on food trucks and vendors within a certain distance from their businesses or prohibitions on food trucks’…

  • January 22, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    JUNE 2014 UPDATE: Food trucks are now allowed to vend in Bergen County parks. More than 12 trucks are rotating through the parks on a monthly basis, finally providing New Jersey with a taste from its talented food-truck chefs.    It’s tough to be a food-truck entrepreneur in New Jersey. Anti-competitive and burdensome laws make…

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