Decision strikes down Washington’s zero-tolerance drug law, which made even accidental possession, a felony
Today, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the state cannot make innocent conduct illegal. In doing so, it struck down Washington’s felony drug possession statute, RCW 69.50.4013, because it criminalizes any and all drug possession, even when the person unknowingly possesses an illegal drug. The case is State v. Blake, No. 96873-0. The case concerned…
Arlington, Virginia—Today, in a case involving a college student beaten by law enforcement officers in an unprovoked attack, the U.S. Supreme Court refused the government’s request to create a new kind of immunity for the officers. Instead, it sent the case against the officers back to a federal appeals court to decide whether claims brought in…
Legal challenge asks Florida courts to rule that sky-high fines for minor violations violate the state constitution
West Palm Beach, Fla.—The town of Lantana has practically robbed Sandy Martinez of the value of her home through excessive fines, mostly as a result of the way she parks her own cars in her own driveway. One parking violation, assessed daily for over a year, totals more than $100,000. The total amount the town…
Lincoln, Neb.—The city of Lincoln has amended the cottage food ordinance that last year prompted a lawsuit by the Institute for Justice (IJ) and home baker Cindy Harper, in partnership with Husch Blackwell LLP. In 2019, Cindy helped convince state lawmakers to adopt LB 304, which reformed Nebraska’s regulations for the home-based sale of shelf-stable…
Do you have the same interests as the government? Seems like a silly question, right? Whatever you think about what the government—be it a city, a state, or even the United States—is up to, it has all kinds of things to worry about, and prioritizes those things in many different ways. For example, it might…
Imagine a law giving bureaucrats unbridled discretion over your property rights. It would provide no standards. City officials could stop you from using your property—such as putting up a fence or planting a tree—for arbitrary reasons, or, indeed, for no reason at all. And you’d have no one to appeal their decisions to. Now imagine…
By a vote of 39-29, the New Mexico House of Representatives approved a landmark bill on Tuesday that would let individuals sue government agencies for violating their rights. Critically, the proposed New Mexico Civil Rights Act (HB 4) would eliminate “qualified immunity” as a legal defense. Under qualified immunity, government officials can only be held…
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
August “Augie” Kersten is a co-owner of the Lonesome Dove saloon in Mandan, North Dakota. He started the Lonesome Dove 28 years ago with Brian Berube. The two commissioned a mural for the front of their saloon, which triggered a notice of violation from Mandan, which chided Augie and Brian for displaying art on their own property without first getting the city’s OK.
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.
Michael Peticolas owns Peticolas Brewing, located in an industrial neighborhood near downtown Dallas. In 2013, Texas passed a law that prohibits brewers from negotiating with distributors for the value of their territorial rights. Instead, the law forces brewers to give those rights away for free. That jeopardizes his plans to expand into other parts of Texas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Jason and Jacki have owned their property in Golden Valley, a suburb of Minneapolis, for decades. But the city hasn’t respected their tenants’ wishes and instead has tried to obtain unconstitutional “administrative” warrants to force its way inside.
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.
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.
Corban Addison Klug (writing under the pen name “Corban Addison”) has published four novels and works out of his home in Charlottesville, Virginia. But Charlottesville and Albemarle County require a business license to write novels, and they have assessed thousands of dollars in back taxes against Corban and other hardworking freelance writers.
Allie Nelson, a retired law enforcement officer, was born and raised in Chicago and has lived in the city most of her life. In February 2018, an administrative law officer determined that Nelson was liable for nearly $6,000 in fines and fees, even though Nelson was not in the city when the car was impounded, and all charges were dropped against the driver.
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.