Minneapolis—This morning, the Minnesota Supreme Court took a step toward protecting innocent people whose property has been taken by law enforcement. The court ruled that innocent owners are entitled to prompt post-seizure hearings and ordered the return of a car that has been held by the Shakopee Police Department for 18 months. While the car…
Montana Supreme Court Ruled State May Discriminate Against Parents Who Select Religious Schools for Their Children
Arlington, Virginia—In a case appealed yesterday (Tuesday, March 12, 2019) to the U.S. Supreme Court, Montana parents are asking the nation’s High Court to overturn a Montana Supreme Court decision that allows the government to bar families from participating in an otherwise generally available student-aid program merely because the parents have selected a religious school…
Pipeline Companies Unlawfully Take Land Now And Pay (Much) Later
Arlington, Va.—Should private pipeline companies be able to use the government’s power of eminent domain to take land immediately while denying the landowners any compensation for months or even years? That is the question raised by a cert petition filed today (March 13, 2019) by the Institute for Justice with the U.S. Supreme Court on…
Private, Self-Interested Group Denies Experienced Captain License to Work with Questionable Allegations Such as Use of “Salty” Language
Arlington, Va.—Captain Matthew Hight was on the verge of getting his license to pilot commercial vessels on the St. Lawrence Seaway and Lake Ontario, but the U.S. Coast Guard refused to let him proceed after a for-profit association concocted reasons to deny him the right to work. What was one of those reasons? That he…
South Padre Island, Tex.—Today, a group of South Texas food trucks filed a lawsuit aiming to shut down South Padre Island’s anti-competitive food truck restrictions. The lawsuit, which was filed in Cameron County District Court, challenges the constitutionality of the city’s requirement that all food trucks obtain permission from a brick-and-mortar restaurant before opening for…
Law prohibits food trucks from operating within 500 feet of restaurants; one of the most restrictive bans in the nation
Today, a Florida circuit court ruled that Fort Pierce cannot enforce its unconstitutional ban on food trucks operating within 500 feet of another establishment that sells food. Food truck owners Benny Diaz and Brian Peffer filed a lawsuit against the city for its food truck law with the Institute for Justice (IJ) for violating their…
A small North Jersey community joins together to stop borough officials from authorizing eminent domain for private development
Leonia, N.J.—Today, residents, small-business owners and supporters in Leonia, New Jersey, announced the formation of Leonia United Against Eminent Domain Abuse (“Leonia United”). The new group is dedicated to stopping the abuse of eminent domain—the government’s power to take private property—which would be authorized as part of the borough’s current “condemnation redevelopment study” of their…
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.
Rett owns Revolver Brewing, south of Fort Worth. He is fighting a Texas law that forces brewers to give up their distribution rights to distributors for free. Even worse, distributors can then sell those rights to other distributors and pocket the money.
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.
Sage Lewis pioneered an innovative community for the homeless on his commercial property at 15 Broad Street in Akron, Ohio. His nonprofit, The Homeless Charity, provides tents, food, showers, computers, and other resources to 44 residents. But Akron is trying to eliminate his work through the city’s zoning code.
After being in prison for two years, when Amanda got out, she became passionate about cosmetology and even got a job offer at a salon before she finished school. But the state board denied her a cosmetology license, claiming she lacked “good moral character.”
Korver Ear Nose and Throat LLC owns a recently constructed medical facility in Orange City, Iowa. It would like to convert the lower level of this facility into an outpatient surgery center, but does not want to incur the enormous time, expense, and uncertainty of going through the certificate of need process, only to be denied because of its competitor’s opposition.
Summit Christian Academy is a private, nonprofit K-12 school located in Spokane, Washington. The school applied to participate in the state’s Work-Study Program, but was denied, simply because of its religious affiliation.
Visibly is a Chicago-based internet startup that offers consumers a simple promise: Get a new prescription for glasses or contacts from the comfort of your own home. In most states, Visibly’s technology allows doctors to provide faster and better service to more people—but not in South Carolina.
In May 2014, Philadelphia police showed up unannounced at Markela’s home and tried to seize the home through civil forfeiture because her son had been caught selling a small amount of drugs outside the home. After a year of uncertainty, the city agreed to stop seizing people’s homes without warning and forcing people to give up their constitutional rights and kick out family members. Even better—Markela’s son was allowed back home.
A registered nurse and grandmother from Katy, Texas, Anthonia had over $40,000 in cash seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. She was heading to Nigeria and planned to use the money to help family and to built a new medical clinic. Anthonia is now the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against CBP’s policies of seizing cash and demanding owners waive away their constitutional rights to recover their money.
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.
Sung Cho owns and operates Super Laundromat and Drycleaners, one of the largest laundromats in Manhattan. Sung could be evicted, and his business closed, simply because his business was the site of a crime. The identity of the criminals was beside the point.
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.
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.
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.
Mary Lou Wesselhoeft and her husband Paul Wesselhoeft own Ocheesee Creamery, a small creamery in the Florida Panhandle. Because of the all-natural dairy philosophy that Mary Lou follows, she added nothing to the creamery’s skim milk. But a state agency wants her to use a confusing and misleading label that labels the milk something it is not: “Non-Grade ‘A’ Milk Product, Natural Milk Vitamins Removed.”
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.
Since 2014, Michelle has owned and operated her two food trucks in and around Wilmington, North Carolina: Momma Rock’s Dessert Truck specializes in event catering while T’Geaux Boys—a nod to Michelle’s Louisiana roots—operates as a more traditional food truck.
After obtaining her private certifications in canine massage therapy, Grace started volunteering with rescue agencies and adoption events to provide canine massage for ailing and neglected dogs. She later turned her volunteer hobby into a business, which she named Pawsitive Touch.
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.
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.
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.
Chris 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.
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.
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.
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.
Hilda Brucker was sitting at home one day working her job as a freelance writer. The phone rang, she answered, and was told by a hostile voice that if she didn’t come down to the courthouse at once she would be given a failure to appear violation. She hastily complied. When she got there, she found out that the city had issued a citation, although it had never told her about it. She later learned the citation stated she was charged with (1) “Rotted wood on house and chipping paint on fascia boards”; (2) “High weeds in backyard and ivy on tree and vines on house”; and (3) “Driveway in a state of disrepair.” Not knowing what to do, Hilda pled guilty to the driveway charge, while the other two were dismissed. She paid a fine of $100 and was sentenced to six months probation, where she had to report to a probation officer, avoid alcoholic intoxication, and cooperate “with code enforcement upon request.” She later hired an attorney who filed a motion to vacate her sentence, but the motion was continued several times, eventually being granted only after her six-month probation would have already ended. She also obtained a home equity line of credit in case she needed to pay for any of the fixes that the city nebulously demanded.
Troy and Angela Nelson operate a small family farm in Palermo, Maine. They have two children, Alicia, who attends a nonreligious school, and Royce, who attends Temple Academy, a private, Christian school. Palermo won’t pay for Royce’s tuition, simply because he attends a religious school, even though its pays tuition for Alicia.
Wendy trained as a makeup artist in Hollywood and has over 20 years of experience working with celebrities. But in Nevada, teaching others how to apply makeup without a government-issued license can subject you to up to $2,000 in fines.
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.
Whitworth University Young Americans for Freedom Chapter (WU-YAF) has members who are eligible for the State Work-Study Program, but some of their desired employers are considered ineligible because they are “sectarian.”
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.
For decades, Isis Brantley has fought for her right to braid hair and to pass on her knowledge to others. She successfully sued the state of Texas after it attempted to force her to turn her braiding school into a barber college.
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.
Lisa Kivirist is a mother, farmer, business owner and avid baker. Lisa typically serves muffins and other baked goods at her B&B for breakfast, but the baked-good ban prohibits her from selling these same exact goods to guests.
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.
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.
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.”