The lawsuit saved Lonesome Dove’s mural, led Mandan to enact a speech-friendly mural law, and showed that one business can stand up to City Hall.
Mandan, N.D.—Today, the lawsuit brought by Lonesome Dove saloon owners Brian Berube and August “Augie” Kersten has formally come to an end. Along with the Institute for Justice (IJ), Brian and Augie sued Mandan for trying to ban their mural because it was “intended to advertise an establishment.” Not only did their lawsuit save Lonesome…
Federal Lawsuit Will Proceed on Behalf of Victims of Unconstitutional Vehicles Seizures
Today, after illegally seizing and holding Robert Reeves’s 1991 Chevrolet Camaro for the last seven months, Detroit police agreed to return it along with $2,280 in cash they seized from him in July 2019. He picked up the car this morning. The police’s sudden change of heart comes on the heels of a federal class…
Institute for Justice applauds proposals that could create thousands of jobs in the Sunshine State
Tallahassee, Fla.—House and Senate committees today approved their versions of the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act, bills that would overhaul occupational licensing laws in the state of Florida. The bills, HB 1193 and SB 474, are a top priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has supported licensing reform through administrative action and public statements. All…
IJ Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Hold State/Federal Task Forces Accountable For Constitutional Violations
Arlington, Virginia—In 2014, James King was a law-abiding college student who was brutally beaten and choked unconscious by members of a joint state/federal police task force after they misidentified him as a suspect sought in connection with a non-violent petty crime. Ever since that day, the government has used every tool at its disposal to…
Arlington, Va.—In a major win for free speech, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that occupational licensing is not a First Amendment-free zone. The court ruled that a Mississippi technology startup, Vizaline LLC, can go forward with its free speech challenge to a licensing law that a Mississippi regulatory board is attempting…
Amicus brief asks that government officials be held accountable for violating constitutional rights
Arlington, Va.—Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether officials from the FBI and other government agencies can be held accountable for violating Americans’ constitutional rights. If the Supreme Court decides they cannot be, it will send a clear message to the FBI and other government agencies that they can trample on constitutional rights…
Today, a federal judge in the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) policy of silencing anyone who settles an enforcement actions with the agency. The lawsuit was brought by the Institute for Justice (IJ) on behalf of the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank that contends…
Bonnie Ybarra was able to obtain program scholarships for two of her three elementary school-aged girls to attend private school, with her youngest daughter set to join them this year. But absent an infusion of scholarship funds into Nevada’s program, Ybarra’s girls face a return to the public-school system that previously failed to meet their educational needs.
In March 2017, Phil Parhamovich, a musician from Madison, Wisconsin, was pulled over by the Wyoming Highway Patrol and pressured into signing a pre-printed waiver that stated he was “giving” his $91,800 in cash to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.
Fortunately, after the Institute for Justice took his case, law enforcement returned all of the cash they had wrongfully taken from Phil.
Dr. Michael Garrett is a family doctor in Austin, Texas, who has been practicing medicine for over two decades. But unlike 45 states, in Texas, many patients can’t purchase medication directly from the doctor prescribing it.
After working in the food service industry for several years, Troy King purchased his first food truck in 2014—a gourmet chicken food truck called Pollo. But in September 2016, Troy was operating Pollo in downtown Louisville when a city inspector threatened to issue a citation and tow his truck simply because Troy was serving customers within 150 feet a restaurant that also serves chicken. Troy was forced to abandon his vending location and his customers.
Kim Billups turned her lifelong passion for history into a fun tourism business called Charleston Belle Tours, where Kim could give in-character tours of the major sites in Charleston, SC in full period regalia.
Jessica is one of the owners of White Cottage Red Door in Door County, Wisconsin. When the small business opened a food truck in its parking lot, the Town of Gibraltar’s board, chaired by a local restaurant owner, promptly banned all mobile businesses.
IJ client Cynthia Perry wants to send her daughter, Faith, to a private school in North Carolina, but she cannot afford the tuition on her own. She needs the financial lifeline of an Opportunity Scholarship.
On May 11, 2015, Miladis Salgado returned home to find her life turned upside down. While she was at work, police raided her home and seized her entire life savings—$15,000 in cash—based on a tip that her estranged husband was dealing drugs. He wasn’t, but that didn’t stop the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from attempting to keep Miladis’s money forever.
Achan works in fear that Iowa will punish her for providing her services without a license. If she could braid without a license, she would reopen her salon, grow her business and better provide for her family.
Chris and Markela Sourovelis worked their whole lives to build a home for their family. Officials in Philadelphia then tried to use civil forfeiture to take it all away, even though Chris and Markela did nothing wrong.
Founded in 2011, ROSE is an Atlanta-based, nonprofit organization that works to increase access to breastfeeding support and improve healthcare equity among African-American communities in Georgia and around the country.
The Cristofaros were plaintiffs in the infamous Kelo v. New London lawsuit, when the city tried to take their house again. Since the ruling, Mike has become a national spokesperson for property owners fighting eminent domain abuse.
The Archdiocese of Newark is one of the largest in terms of population in the U.S., with nearly 1.3 million Catholics and 219 parishes. The Archdiocese is fighting a New Jersey law that makes it a crime to sell monuments, such as headstones, to their parishioners.
James Slatic is a consummate entrepreneur who has started more than ten businesses and has been active in the medical marijuana movement. Annette works as a radiology technician for the local Veterans Administration Hospital. Lily is a sophomore at San Jose State University and her sister Penny is in high school.
Ilumi has worked with children since she came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in 1995. Although she has a Child Development Associate credential (“CDA”) and was trained as a lawyer in her home country, Ilumi does not have the associate’s degree now required under District of Columbia’s new regulations.
IJ client Dr. Ben Burris is an Arkansas orthodontist who wants to offer low-cost teeth cleanings to people who cannot otherwise afford them. But it is illegal for him to perform basic dental services, even though he is a licensed dentist.
Josefina Lozano immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico as a child and has run her own real estate investing business since 1984. She purchased two multi-family properties in Zion, Illinois and has been renting them out for decades. Josefina is unwilling to make her tenants give up their constitutional rights, even though the city government is threatening massive fines.
Brent worked in banking for 42 years before he co-founded Vizaline to provide small community banks with a cost effective way to assess small property assets within their portfolios. But the Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors claimed the company was practicing unlicensed surveying.
Lyndon McLellan has spent more than a decade running L&M Convenience Mart in rural North Carolina. Then, without any warning, agents from the IRS seized his entire bank account, totaling more than $107,000.
Spencer Byrd, a Chicago resident and part-time auto mechanic, who had his car impounded after he gave a client ride who got arrested for drugs. A Cook County Circuit Court judge ordered that his car be returned, but Chicago will not release Spencer’s car until he pays all of the towing and storage fees—more than $17,000.
David and Ellen Keith have lived in Pleasant Ridge since the 1970s, and a daughter, a granddaughter and even two great-grandchildren live next door. But if forced out, they will be left nearly destitute in their retirement.
In May 2018, Jerome Davis and Veronica Walker-Davis took their family car to a repair shop. But a shop employee took their car on a joyride, police arrested them for driving on a revoked license, and impounded the car. When Veronica and Jerome went to get their car, they were told that it was gone. The city had already disposed of it; either selling it, scrapping it, or keeping it for police use.
At 16, Ashley began braiding hair for money and now manages the Afro Touch salon in Louisiana. Although there is no shortage of capable braiders, they are all unlicensed, and the Board’s licensing requirements prevent Ashley from hiring unlicensed braiders.
Norys Hernandez co-owns a home in North Philadelphia with her sister, who resides there. Norys has never been in trouble with the law. But her home was seized after her nephew was caught selling a small amount of drugs outside the home.
Michele Simon is the executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association, a trade group representing the nation’s leading plant-based foods companies. At the behest of the meat lobby, Mississippi banned food companies making plant-based meat alternatives from using any meat product terms on their labels, a law that harms the Association’s members.
Dale Sorcher has cared for infants and toddlers at a Jewish day care on and off since 1996 and holds two masters degrees, one in social work and one in expressive therapy. Unfortunately, under a new regulation in the District of Columbia, her experience does not qualify her to keep her job.
Liz has seven children, three of whom have a severe tissue disorder called EDS which requires constant medical attention. Liz needs Nevada’s ESA so she can design a quality education for her youngest EDS child, Dallin, who will likely miss a lot of school in the future.
Esteban Narez, 26, grew up in Watsonville, California with his mother and two sisters. Esteban withdrew from high school his senior year due to a major injury. He hasn’t been able to get a GED because the medical bills and his family’s finances have forced him to work full-time ever since. Esteban wants to train as a farrier, but California won’t let him.
Martha is a stay-at-home mom with two sons, a 5-year old and a 2-year old. She has baked her whole life and is professionally trained. Martha is Brazilian and lived in Brazil for 25 years, and she would like to start a home business focusing on Brazilian-inspired cookies.
Samantha Harris hired Sally Ladd, a New Jersey-based entrepreneur, to manager her short-term vacation rental in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. But when Pennsylvania wanted Ladd to obtain a real-estate broker’s license, which requires her to spend three years working for an established broker, Sally felt forced to shut down her business.
Ron Mugar is an avid machinist who loves to build things: solar arrays, a hybrid-cell go-kart, and classic cars. After retiring from a career in graphic design, he became a hobby machinist. He first began building things as a kid, but he now pushes himself with bigger and bolder projects.
Scott Fisher runs a video game store in Orange Park, Florida, just outside Jacksonville. To boost foot traffic and visibility for his business, he set up a giant inflatable Mario, only to run afoul of the town’s sign code. Scott has joined with the Institute for Justice to defend his First Amendment rights.