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…
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.
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.
After working in the food service industry for several years, Troy King purchased his first food truck in 2014—a gourmet chicken food truck called Pollo. But in September 2016, Troy was operating Pollo in downtown Louisville when a city inspector threatened to issue a citation and tow his truck simply because Troy was serving customers within 150 feet a restaurant that also serves chicken. Troy was forced to abandon his vending location and his customers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Linda Cameron has been living in the same Richland, Washington home for nearly 40 years. After consulting with a builder, Linda decided to turn her outdated carport into a garage and add a second bedroom and bathroom. But Richland won’t give her a building permit unless she pays over $60,000 in “impact fees.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Aimee and Heath Hairr have five adopted children. Their oldest, Nolan, was floundering in his public school and endured intense bullying. The Hairrs just want Nolan to have a safe learning environment and for their other children to have the same.
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.
David and Ellen Keith have lived in Pleasant Ridge since the 1970s, and a daughter, a granddaughter and even two great-grandchildren live next door. But if forced out, they will be left nearly destitute in their retirement.
Dr. Todd Bergland is a family doctor with over 15 years of experience, seven of which came while on active military duty, including serving as a tank battalion surgeon during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He recently founded Fountainhead Family Med, a primary care practice in Whitefish.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Doug and Mary Ketchum moved to Tennessee to purchase an historic liquor store that would let them take care of their 32-year-old daughter, Stacie, who suffers from cerebral palsy. But they can’t get a liquor license, thanks to the state’s strict residency requirements.
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.
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.
After being in prison for two years, when Amanda got out, she became passionate about cosmetology and even got a job offer at a salon before she finished school. But the state board denied her a cosmetology license, claiming she lacked “good moral character.”
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.
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.
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.
At 16, Ashley began braiding hair for money and now manages the Afro Touch salon in Louisiana. Although there is no shortage of capable braiders, they are all unlicensed, and the Board’s licensing requirements prevent Ashley from hiring unlicensed braiders.
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.