The lawsuit saved Lonesome Dove’s mural, led Mandan to enact a speech-friendly mural law, and showed that one business can stand up to City Hall.
Mandan, N.D.—Today, the lawsuit brought by Lonesome Dove saloon owners Brian Berube and August “Augie” Kersten has formally come to an end. Along with the Institute for Justice (IJ), Brian and Augie sued Mandan for trying to ban their mural because it was “intended to advertise an establishment.” Not only did their lawsuit save Lonesome…
Federal Lawsuit Will Proceed on Behalf of Victims of Unconstitutional Vehicles Seizures
Today, after illegally seizing and holding Robert Reeves’s 1991 Chevrolet Camaro for the last seven months, Detroit police agreed to return it along with $2,280 in cash they seized from him in July 2019. He picked up the car this morning. The police’s sudden change of heart comes on the heels of a federal class…
Institute for Justice applauds proposals that could create thousands of jobs in the Sunshine State
Tallahassee, Fla.—House and Senate committees today approved their versions of the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act, bills that would overhaul occupational licensing laws in the state of Florida. The bills, HB 1193 and SB 474, are a top priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has supported licensing reform through administrative action and public statements. All…
IJ Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Hold State/Federal Task Forces Accountable For Constitutional Violations
Arlington, Virginia—In 2014, James King was a law-abiding college student who was brutally beaten and choked unconscious by members of a joint state/federal police task force after they misidentified him as a suspect sought in connection with a non-violent petty crime. Ever since that day, the government has used every tool at its disposal to…
Arlington, Va.—In a major win for free speech, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that occupational licensing is not a First Amendment-free zone. The court ruled that a Mississippi technology startup, Vizaline LLC, can go forward with its free speech challenge to a licensing law that a Mississippi regulatory board is attempting…
Amicus brief asks that government officials be held accountable for violating constitutional rights
Arlington, Va.—Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether officials from the FBI and other government agencies can be held accountable for violating Americans’ constitutional rights. If the Supreme Court decides they cannot be, it will send a clear message to the FBI and other government agencies that they can trample on constitutional rights…
Today, a federal judge in the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) policy of silencing anyone who settles an enforcement actions with the agency. The lawsuit was brought by the Institute for Justice (IJ) on behalf of the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank that contends…
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.
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.
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.
Keysha Newell is the mother of two children: One in a private elementary school, using using a scholarship from Nevada’s Scholarship Program, with the other in preschool. Newell plans to enroll her youngest child—who has a learning disability—in a private school. But without additional funding, the Scholarship Program may not have the funds to provide her youngest with a scholarship.
Lyndon McLellan has spent more than a decade running L&M Convenience Mart in rural North Carolina. Then, without any warning, agents from the IRS seized his entire bank account, totaling more than $107,000.
Norys Hernandez co-owns a home in North Philadelphia with her sister, who resides there. Norys has never been in trouble with the law. But her home was seized after her nephew was caught selling a small amount of drugs outside the home.
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.
In March 2017, Phil Parhamovich, a musician from Madison, Wisconsin, was pulled over by the Wyoming Highway Patrol and pressured into signing a pre-printed waiver that stated he was “giving” his $91,800 in cash to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.
Fortunately, after the Institute for Justice took his case, law enforcement returned all of the cash they had wrongfully taken from Phil.
Sally Ladd is a New Jersey-based entrepreneur who provides short-term vacation property management services in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. But after Pennsylvania wanted her to obtain a real-estate broker’s license, which requires her to spend three years working for an established broker, Sally felt forced to shut down her business.
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.
Dr. Kristin Held is an ophthalmologist and board-certified surgeon with over three decades of experience who works as a solo practitioner at Stone Oak Ophthalmology Center in San Antonio, Texas. She wants to dispense routine medications to her own patients, but can’t, under a protectionist Texas law.
Lata has been threading since she was a teenager in India and saw a need for threading services in the New Orleans metropolitan area. But in June 2016, state regulators fined her business for employing unlicensed threaders, and ordered Lata to fire her unlicensed employees.
Dr. Mark Monteferrante wants to build a new, top-notch medical facility in Virginia. But under the commonwealth’s certificate of need (CON) program, he first has to persuade government officials that his facility would be “needed.”
Carter Walker is a reporter covering the county government for the Lancaster, Pennsylvania newspaper. To shine a light on forfeiture spending by the Lancaster County DA, he filed a request, which was denied. Carter appealed to Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records and won, but now the DA is fighting in court to keep this information secret.
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.
In September 2015, Tammy Holland took out two ads in her local Colorado newspaper to alert readers to upcoming school-board elections. For that simple act of civic engagement, Tammy was sued—twice—by incumbent school board members who didn’t appreciate the publicity. Tammy teamed up with IJ to challenge Colorado’s abuse-prone system of enforcing private campaign-finance complaints. In June 2018, a federal court sided with Tammy and declared Colorado’s system unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
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.
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.
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.
Rebecca Brown was only in Pittsburgh for the weekend and the banks had already closed, so she decided to take her father’s money home with her in her carry-on bag and deposit it there. The money was seized from Rebecca when she tried to fly home to Boston from the Pittsburgh International Airport.
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.
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.
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.
Dipendra and his business partner Kishor Sapkota tried to open a home health agency that specializes in providing care to the Nepali community in Louisville, but Kentucky won’t allow him to open because its certificate of need (CON) law.
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.
Byron Billingsley was cited by police in Doraville, Georgia for going around a truck traveling at 5 mph—with no other traffic around—without using his turn signal. After hiring a lawyer to defend himself he paid $100. He has to keep driving through Doraville as he works in the city.
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 Washington Department of Licensing ordered IJ client Salamata Sylla to obtain a time-consuming and irrelevant cosmetology license for hair braiding. IJ sued on her behalf and forced the Department to adopt a rule exempting braiders.
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.
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.
Josefina Lozano immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico as a child and has run her own real estate investing business since 1984. She purchased two multi-family properties in Zion, Illinois and has been renting them out for decades. Josefina is unwilling to make her tenants give up their constitutional rights, even though the city government is threatening massive fines.
IJ client Jane Astramecki, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, runs a home baking business. But Minnesota’s restrictive cottage food law bans her from earning more than $5,000 a year and from selling her treats at venues other than farmers’ markets and community events.