Government demands copies of books, threatens thousands in fines, offers nothing in return
Richmond, Va.—The U.S. Copyright Office is demanding copies of hundreds of books published by a small Richmond publisher, Valancourt Books. If Valancourt doesn’t send the books, they could be subject to six figures in fines. But there’s a problem: Valancourt doesn’t have the books. They are a print-on-demand publisher, and giving the federal government free…
College employment program bars religious employers from hiring students for on-the-job training
Like other schools in Washington state, Summit Christian Academy, a K-12 private school in Spokane, would like to hire college students as tutors under the state’s Work-Study Program. But because Summit is a religious school, it is barred by the government from doing so, even if those students would be tutoring in subjects such as…
San Juan, Puerto Rico—Today, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court rejected a teachers’ union’s challenge to the Free School Selection Program, and declared the program constitutional. As a result, up to 10,000 Puerto Rican families will be able to apply for government scholarships to send their children to the private or public schools of their choice.…
San Juan, Puerto Rico—Hoy el Tribunal Supremo rechazó el desafió de un sindicato de maestros contra el Programa de Libre Selección de Escuelas y declaró que el programa es constitucional. Como resultado de ello, hasta 10.000 familias puertorriqueñas podrán solicitar becas del gobierno para enviar a sus hijos la escuela pública o privada de su…
Un nuevo informe categoriza las leyes de Puerto Rico como las peores en los E.E.U.U.
Arlington, Va.– Las leyes de expropiación forzosa de Puerto Rico recibieron una calificación de F en un reporte publicado hoy por el Institute for Justice, una organización sin fines de lucro y firma legal de libertades civiles dedicada a erradicar la expropiación (o el “dominio eminente” como se conoce en los Estados Unidos) de manera…
In the aftermath of hurricane María, new report warns of potential government abuse
Arlington, Va.– Puerto Rico’s eminent domain laws received a grade of “F” in a report released today by the Institute for Justice (IJ), a nonprofit, civil liberties law firm dedicated to ending eminent domain abuse: when the government seizes private property not for traditional public uses, but for private development. The report examines Puerto Rico’s…
First Amendment Victory Vindicates Would-Be Guides’ Two-Year Battle
Charleston, S.C.—In a sweeping victory for free-speech rights, Judge David Norton of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina today issued an opinion holding that the City of Charleston’s licensing requirement for tour guides violates the First Amendment. The licensing law was challenged by three would-be tour guides—Kimberly Billups, Michael Warfield and…
Mats Järlström is a Swedish-born electronics engineer and has the equivalent of a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. After his wife received a ticket based on a red-light camera in Beaverton, Oregon, Mats began criticizing the math behind red-light cameras. But Oregon’s engineer-licensing board considered Mats’ traffic-light critiques to be the unlicensed practice of engineering and fined him $500.
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.
Khalid (“Ken”) Quran moved to America in 1997, and now runs a convenience store in Greenville, N.C. But the government seized his entire bank account—more than $150,000—even though he was never charged with a crime.
Chip owns Live Oak Brewing, based in Austin, Texas. Established in 1997, Live Oak has been brewing craft beer long before its current surge in popularity. Now he is fighting a Texas law that forces craft brewers to give up millions of dollars of valuable property to politically connected beer distributors.
After eight years of working as a driver for Yellow Cab, Ken Leininger decided to start his own business. But when Ken tried to get permits for his new business early last year, Little Rock denied his applications.
Gerardo Serrano owns a Ford F-250 pickup that was seized by Customs and Border Protection for civil forfeiture in September 2015. CBP seized the truck because they found five bullets in the center console, claiming they were “munitions of war.” After almost two years without a judge hearing his case, Gerardo joined with the Institute for Justice in September 2017 to file a lawsuit to get his truck back. Gerardo also filed suit on behalf of all U.S. citizens who have had vehicles seized by CBP, seeking an order requiring the agency to provide a prompt hearing whenever they take vehicles for civil forfeiture.
Brothers Jeffrey, Richard and Mitch Hirsch owned Bi-County Distributors Inc., a small distribution business in Long Island, N.Y. The IRS used a legal process called civil forfeiture to seize their entire bank account—more than $446,000—even though they had done nothing wrong. After the brothers filed a lawsuit, the IRS returned their hard-earned cash.
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.
Bob Smith has been professionally shoeing horses since 1974 and founded Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School (PCHS) in Plymouth, California to pass his skills on to another generation of farriers. But California threatened to shut him down, because Bob was admitting students to his horseshoeing school who hadn’t first graduated from high school or passed an equivalent government-approved exam.
Ash Patel moved to Texas from India to pursue his American Dream of opening up an eyebrow threading salon. But in 2009, Texas demanded that eyebrow threaders obtain an expensive cosmetology license—even though beauty schools teach absolutely nothing about eyebrow threading. Ash shut down his successful business to avoid paying $2,000 in fines. He teamed up with the Institute for Justice to vindicate his rights. Six years later, IJ scored one of its most important economic liberty victories when the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state had violated the Texas Constitution by ordering threaders to obtain 750 hours of conventional cosmetology training. Threaders all over Texas are now free to work without having to obtain a government-issued license.
Pat Raynor, a lifelong hairstylist, became interested in working from home after her husband Harold passed away in 2009. But under Nashville’s ban on home-based businesses, Pat was forced to shut down her home hair salon.
IJ client Elmer Kilian has been preparing taxes for the past 30 years on his dining room table. He fought and successfully defended his right to earn an honest living without getting permission from the IRS.
For more than 30 years, Hinga Mbogo has been fixing the cars of Dallas residents at his shop on Ross Avenue. But the city is trying to shut him down by using an oppressive and little-known zoning process called “amortization.”
Terry Dehko and his family have owned and operated the Schott’s Market in Fraser, Mich., for 35 years. The Dehkos had $35,000 taken from them by federal law enforcement officials through a process known as civil forfeiture.
Dr. Mark Baumel, of Colon Health Centers for America, wants to increase the rate of screening for colon cancers. But when Dr. Baumel and his partners sought Virginia’s permission to buy new CT scanners, it denied them a “certificate of need.”
Susette is the Kelo in Kelo v. New London. She led her neighbors in a seven-year battle to save their homes from being taken by the government for private development, culminating in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2005.
Michael Jensen would like Dr. Birchansky to perform his next needed eye surgery at the outpatient center next to Dr. Birchansky’s office because it is a safe, less costly, convenient, and familiar environment. Unfortunately Iowa’s CON law is denying him that choice.
Under Red Wing, Minn.’s rental inspection ordinance, it is easier for the government to force its way into the homes of law-abiding citizens than it is to search the home of a suspected criminal. Robert and Rebecca joined a lawsuit to stop these unreasonable and intrusive inspections of their private residential properties.
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.
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.
Inspired by France’s wine-growing regions, Nan Bailly’s father started Alexis Bailly Vineyard, Minnesota’s oldest operating farm winery, in 1973. Nan has continued her father’s legacy, making Minnesota wines with her vineyard’s grapes and other locally-sourced ingredients. She would like the freedom to offer new and greater varieties of blended wine to the public without worrying about an arbitrary limit on how many of her grapes crossed Minnesota’s border.
Vocatura’s Bakery was founded in 1919, almost one hundred years ago, and has been owned and operated by three generations of the Vocatura family. Claiming the owners violated so-called “structuring” laws by depositing cash in the bakery’s bank account in amounts less than $10,000, the IRS seized more than $68,000 from the family.
Bill Von Winkle’s Fort Trumbull Deli served oversized hoagies to eager customers from 1986 until 2001 when the New London Development Corporation’s actions forced the Von Winkles to shut it down and forgo its income.
Charles Clarke is a college student, who spent over 5 years to save up $11,000—only to have it seized by law enforcement officials before he was scheduled to board a flight at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport.
Russ Caswell and his family have owned and operated the Motel Caswell in Tewksbury, Mass., for two generations. The Caswells nearly had their property taken from them by local and federal law enforcement officials through a process known as civil forfeiture.
Jeff has spent almost 30 years building a successful small business with his brothers, distributing candy, snacks and other goods to convenience stores throughout Long Island. But the government raided the business’s bank account using civil forfeiture—taking $446,000 and nearly destroying the family business. T
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.