North Dakota became the latest state to untangle natural hair braiders and eyebrow threaders from a thicket of licensing red tape thanks to a bill signed late yesterday by Gov. Doug Burgum. Before the law was signed, threaders could only work in North Dakota if they became licensed estheticians, a credential that requires a minimum…
Pennsylvanians have the right to know about the property that local law enforcement takes and how it spends the proceeds
Lancaster, Pa.—The Lancaster County District Attorney uses civil forfeiture to take hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and other property each year. Under Pennsylvania law, he is able to spend the proceeds with few restrictions. Yet detailed information about what property is taken and how the proceeds are spent is secret. Now, reporter Carter…
Arlington, Va.—Can the government restrict access to innovative health care technology in order to prop up an outdated business model? A new lawsuit filed yesterday in Marion Superior Court seeks to answer that question. The lawsuit, filed by health care technology company Visibly and the Institute for Justice (IJ), challenges Indiana’s ban on doctors using…
Thanks to a major reform signed earlier today by Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona became the first state in the nation to universally recognize out-of-state licenses. Under the new law (HB 2569), Arizona will generally issue a license to new residents who were licensed for at least one year in another state, so long as their…
In more than 200 Documented Examples from Across the U.S., Lower Courts Rubber Stamp Such Abuses
Case Appealed to U.S. Supreme Court Seeks to End this Abuse of Eminent Domain Arlington, Va.—In hundreds of documented examples from across the nation, powerful pipeline companies have convinced the courts to ignore the law and give these private companies other people’s land without first paying the owners any compensation, as required under federal law.…
Harrisburg, Pa.—A federal judge in Pennsylvania denied the Food and Drug Administration’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit about whether additive-free skim milk can be labeled and sold as “skim milk.” Current FDA regulations require farmers to add synthetic vitamins into skim milk before sale. Maryland dairy farmer Randy Sowers wants to sell all-natural skim milk…
Institute for Justice challenges for-profit law firm’s attempt to collect more than $60,000 in attorneys’ fees after it lost in court
Two years ago, Norco homeowner Ron Mugar received a notice indicating he had violated the city’s housing code. Ron had admittedly allowed his home and backyard to become cluttered with hobby machinery. But this time, instead of fining him or asking him to bring his property up to code, the city’s private, for-profit prosecutors—lawyers with…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jill Homan lives in Petworth with her family and sends her one-year-old daughter to a day care center in Northeast D.C. Jill wants to stand up for day care providers’ right to earn a living and for her own right to choose her child’s caretakers.
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.
Courtney wanted to become an esthetician so she could earn extra income and have flexible hours to spend with her son. But the state cosmetology board denied Courtney a license because of her criminal record, which has nothing to do with cosmetology.
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
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.
When John tried to expand his cab business to Bowling Green, he was stymied by a city law that limited the number of taxis allowed in the city to only 16. Less than two months after he filed a lawsuit, Bowling Green repealed the cap.
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.
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.
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.
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.
David Diaz, a custodian at a synagogue in the Bronx, lives with members of his family in an apartment near the Bronx Zoo. The NYPD raided the apartment in 2013, entering with guns drawn, and arrested all the adults present, but did not charge anyone.
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.
Teresa Quinones, of Lawrenceville, Ga., is a mother of three young children. Her two oldest children, Audri and Christopher, attend Notre Dame Academy, thanks to Georgia’s Scholarship Tax-Credit Program.
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.
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.
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.
Elijah “Lij” Shaw is a single father and lifelong record producer and recorded nationally renowned, Grammy Award-winning performers like Adele, John Oates, Jack White and Wilco. After his daughter was born, Lij decided to convert his garage into a soundproofed recording studio, which he used without any complaints for over a decade. But now Nashville is threatening to destroy Lij’s investment and uproot him from his neighborhood.
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.”
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.
John Heiderich and Gwendolyn Lee, have owned and operated rental properties in Seattle for more than forty years. They are unwilling to let the city intrude into their tenant’s home and are committed to helping their tenant protect her constitutional rights.
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.
IJ client Celeste Kelly spent hundreds of hours learning about horses in order to obtain private certifications in animal massage. But now the state of Arizona is forcing her to become a licensed veterinarian to continue practicing her craft.