Statute designed to hold government officials accountable now being weaponized by Solicitor General to prevent victims from having their day in court
Arlington, Va.—Brownback v. King, a case in which the government is seeking to create a huge new loophole through which government workers can escape accountability when they violate someone’s constitutional rights, will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, November 9, 2020. In anticipation of that argument, scholars, public interest advocates and members…
Wednesday afternoon, Judge Richard P. Haaz for the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, denied the borough of Pottstown’s motion for a protective order in a lawsuit over its rental inspection law that forces landlords and tenants to open their properties and homes to intrusive inspections. Pottstown renters, a landlord, and residents of a non-rental home the borough attempted…
Adam Shelton | Center for Judicial Engagement | October 15, 2020
The Institute for Justice fights every day to ensure that all Americans enjoy the freedoms the Constitution guarantees. As part of this work, the Institute has long advocated for judicial engagement; that is, the idea that judges should analyze and evaluate the facts in every constitutional case that comes before them and not prejudge a…
Arlington, Va.—The Institute for Justice, a non-profit public interest law firm that advocates for educational choice and economic liberty, filed an amicus brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court in support of parents challenging a Dane County, Wisconsin, order closing private (and public) schools for grades 3-12. While Dane County allows childcare and educational camps at…
Order restores rights to thousands of New Yorkers threatened with evictions
Arlington, Va.—On Monday, October 5, 2020, Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York approved a settlement order providing systemic relief to thousands of New Yorkers whom the city had targeted for no-fault evictions in years past. For decades, the city used its no-fault eviction program to coerce residents and businesses to enter…
When the Catherine H. Barber Memorial Shelter applied for a zoning permit to open at a new facility in North Wilkesboro, its board of directors was confident that the town would grant the permit. After all, the building is in an ideal location, near businesses and public transit but far from residential areas, and it…
Seventh annual South Side Pitch goes online and highlights how existing businesses are confronting the challenges of 2020
CHICAGO—Six South Side businesses will compete November 5 in the finals of the seventh annual South Side Pitch. The pitch showcase is transforming for this year, highlighting existing businesses that are taking on the challenges of 2020 in new and unique ways. The contest is going online this year to keep contestants, judges and the…
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Iowa’s certificate-of-need requirement prevents Michael Driesen and his children from receiving future ENT surgeries from Korver ENT because Korver ENT cannot open its proposed surgery center before obtaining a certificate of need.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
From satellites in space to circuits for flashlights, Greg Mills has spent his entire career working as an engineer designing and building electronics. But early in 2019, a group of industry insiders sitting on a government board abruptly put Greg’s career on ice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kendra desperately wanted to send her children to Stillwater, but knew she could not afford the tuition on her salary. So she started working to raise tuition funds. She held two yard sales and auctioned off handmade quilts made by a generous donor. She also found additional work cleaning houses. Adding to the extra funds, Stillwater provided the family with partial financial aid, and the girls began school there in September 2015.
Brian Peffer owns and operates “Creative Chef on Wheels.” Brian simply wants to provide his customers with the best food and service he can, but Fort Pierce, Florida’s 500-foot ban stops him from competing.
Lisa 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.
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.
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.
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.
Panna Shah came to the United States from India in 2006 in search of a better life. She has been threading for more than 30 years but would be unable to thread full-time because she can’t afford to complete Louisiana’s irrelevant training requirements.