Supreme Court Cases

The Institute for Justice has litigated nine cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, losing just once. A decision is pending in the most recent case, Brownback v. King. A victory would prevent the government from creating a new loophole that would allow federal officials to escape accountability when they violate someone’s constitutional rights.

Collectively, the cases represent all four of IJ’s litigation pillars: educational choice, economic liberty, free speech and property rights. In its first U.S. Supreme Court case in 2002, IJ successfully defended the constitutionality of a school choice program in Ohio. Nearly a decade later, IJ successfully defended Arizona’s Individual Scholarship Tax Credit, which has expanded private school options for tens of thousands of parents. In 2020 IJ won Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which prevents states from discriminating against religious options in generally available scholarship programs.

IJ also fought against protectionist alcohol regulations in 2005 and 2019. Thanks to high court victories in those cases, states cannot treat out-of-state wineries different than in-state wineries and cannot require new residents to wait years before being eligible for a liquor license.

In 2011, IJ won its challenge against Arizona’s “Clean Elections” system for discouraging free speech. And in a major property rights case in 2019, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of excessive fines applies to the states.

IJ’s only Supreme Court loss, Kelo v. New London, produced a victory in the court of public opinion, leading to reforms and court decisions in 47 states that better protect property rights.

  • Brownback v. King

    Taking on The Shell Games That Allow Federal/State Task Force Members To Violate Your Rights

    SPECIAL: Brownback v. King U.S. Supreme Court Media Kit Institute for Justice Brownback v. King News Release UPDATED:  Litigation Backgrounder Institute for Justice Merits Brief Release on Amicus Briefs Client Photos Case Video Related Podcasts: How the Government Officials Can Blow Up Your House—And Get Away With It By Claiming Qualified Immunity Why Won’t the…

  • Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue

    Montana Moms Seek to Restore School Choice Program that was Struck Down for Including Religious Options

    SPECIAL: Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue U.S. Supreme Court Media Kit Institute for Justice Espinoza News Release UPDATED: Espinoza Litigation Backgrounder Institute for Justice Merits Brief Institute for Justice Merits Reply Brief Espinoza Amicus Briefs Understanding the Blaine Amendment School Choice Myths & Realities Client Photos Case Video Espinoza Video News Release Bound by…

  • Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas

    Can States Bar Newcomers from Owning a Business?

    Doug and Mary Ketchum moved to Tennessee so they could own and operate a mom-and-pop liquor store there. Doing so would enable them to meet their two main goals:  earning a living and doing so in a way that gives them the flexible schedule they need to take care of their severely disabled and ailing…

  • Timbs v. Indiana

    There ARE Limits: IJ Takes Excessive Fines Case to the U.S. Supreme Court

    State and local authorities cannot treat Americans like ATMs. There are instead federal constitutional limits to the many fines, fees and forfeitures that states and localities impose.  That is the principle that Tyson Timbs and the Institute for Justice established at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2019. In a unanimous opinion by Justice Ginsburg, the…

  • Arizona Campaign Finance (Second Challenge)

    The Dirty Truth about Arizona’s “Clean Elections” Act: U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Strike Down Program that Discourages Free Speech, Puts Thumb on Scales for Government-Funded Political Candidates

    In 2008, the Institute for  Justice and the Goldwater Institute teamed up to challenge Arizona’s punitive  system of funding campaigns with taxpayer money.  The consolidated challenges to the  “matching funds” provision of Arizona’s so-called “Clean Elections” Act  eventually made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on March 28, 2011,  heard argument in Arizona…

  • Kelo Eminent Domain

    Eminent Domain Without Limits?: U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Curb Nationwide Abuses

    Susette Kelo dreamed of owning a home that looked out over the water. She purchased and lovingly restored her little pink house where the Thames River meets the Long Island Sound in 1997, and had enjoyed the great view from its windows. The Dery family, up the street from Susette, had lived in Fort Trumbull…

  • Arizona Individual Tax Credit Scholarships (Federal)

    U.S. Supreme Court Dismisses Legal Challenge to Arizona School Choice Program

    On April 4, 2011, in a major victory for school choice efforts nationwide, the United States Supreme Court dismissed this frivolous legal challenge to Arizona’s Individual Scholarship Tax Credit, which provides tens of thousands of school children the opportunity to attend the private school of their parent’s choice.

  • New York Wine

    Uncorking Freedom: Challenging Protectionist Restraints on Direct Interstate Wine Shipments to Consumers

    Juanita Swedenburg, Virginia vintner and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, successfully waged the nation’s leading legal battle to reestablish the American ideals of unfettered interstate commerce, especially on the Internet. With the help of the Institute for Justice, Swedenburg challenged discriminatory laws that existed only to protect the monopoly power of large,…

  • Cleveland, Ohio, School Choice (Federal Case)

    U.S. Supreme Court issued its most important educational decision since Brown v. Board of Education

    On June 27, 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Cleveland’s school choice program in the most important education decision since Brown v. Board of Education.  The court’s ruling in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris removed the federal Constitution from the legal arsenal of teachers’ unions and other school choice opponents and opened the door…

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