Colorado law allows neighbors to gang up on one another, create fake municipalities, and then seize property using eminent domain—all without any government oversight
Arlington, Va. — Imagine if two of your neighbors got together, claimed they established a new town, and then “voted” to take your property from you using eminent domain. Crazy, right? Not in Colorado, where the owners of Woodcrest Homes are battling a competing developer’s attempt to use eminent domain to take their property. After…
Upton’s Naturals and the Plant Based Foods Association drop federal lawsuit after forcing regulatory changes that allow plant-based food companies to use common meat product terms
Jackson, Miss.—Today, Mississippi’s revised labeling regulations took effect allowing plant-based food companies to continue using common meat product terms like burgers and hot dogs. As a result, Upton’s Naturals and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) today dropped a federal lawsuit they filed in July. The company and association teamed up with the Institute for…
Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Today, a judge in Sturgeon Bay denied the Town of Gibraltar’s motion to dismiss a family business’s lawsuit challenging the town’s vending restrictions. The town bans food trucks from operating unless they acquire a town license, which is conditioned on staying out of areas that restaurants operate in, being closed during…
Arlington, Va.—The Institute for Justice asked the U.S. Supreme Court to protect small business owners from being forced to mislead their customers. This request was made in an amicus brief filed by the Institute in support of the second petition for writ of certiorari in the case of CTIA–The Wireless Association v. City of Berkeley,…
Appeals Court Rejects IRS’s Argument For Stonewalling FOIA Request
WASHINGTON—This morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously sided with the Institute for Justice (IJ) in a fight with the IRS over the agency’s forfeiture records. In its decision, the court ruled that the IRS cannot deliberately frustrate FOIA requests by quibbling over immaterial technicalities. The court also ruled that the…
Valancourt Books is a small publisher suing Copyright Office to stop ruinous fines
Richmond, Va.—Richmond is home to Valancourt Books, a small publisher that specializes in reviving horror novels that have gone out of print. They bring back from the dead 18th-century Gothic novels, Victorian horror novels and even genre paperbacks from the 1970s and ‘80s. Yet their novel business is under threat from the U.S. Copyright Office,…
Baton Rouge, La.—A judge in Baton Rouge this morning denied the Louisiana Board of Cosmetology’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit from three Louisiana hair braiders contesting the state’s hair braiding license. Current Louisiana licensing requirements force hair braiders to undergo 500 hours of training to legally braid hair as a career in the state, the…
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.
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.
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.
Inspired by France’s wine-growing regions, Nan Bailly’s father started Alexis Bailly Vineyard, Minnesota’s oldest operating farm winery, in 1973. Nan has continued her father’s legacy, making Minnesota wines with her vineyard’s grapes and other locally-sourced ingredients. She would like the freedom to offer new and greater varieties of blended wine to the public without worrying about an arbitrary limit on how many of her grapes crossed Minnesota’s border.
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.
Mary is a certified lactation consultation with nearly three decades of experience, including teaching at Emory and Morehouse. But thanks to a new license in Georgia, Mary can no longer work in her current position helping women and children with hands-on breastfeeding advice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
John Hart is a New York Times bestselling author who has won several awards for his character-driven, literary thrillers. A former defense attorney and stockbroker, John lives on a farm in Virginia where he writes full-time. 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.
Chip owns Live Oak Brewing, based in Austin, Texas. Established in 1997, Live Oak has been brewing craft beer long before its current surge in popularity. Now he is fighting a Texas law that forces craft brewers to give up millions of dollars of valuable property to politically connected beer distributors.
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.
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.
Founded in 2011, ROSE is an Atlanta-based, nonprofit organization that works to increase access to breastfeeding support and improve healthcare equity among African-American communities in Georgia and around the country.
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.
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.
Samantha Harris hired Sally Ladd, a New Jersey-based entrepreneur, to manager her short-term vacation rental in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. But when Pennsylvania wanted Ladd 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.