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…
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.
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.
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
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.
Courtney wanted to become an esthetician so she could earn extra income and have flexible hours to spend with her son. But the state cosmetology board denied Courtney a license because of her criminal record, which has nothing to do with cosmetology.
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.
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.
Dr. Michael Garrett is a family doctor in Austin, Texas, who has been practicing medicine for over two decades. But unlike 45 states, in Texas, many patients can’t purchase medication directly from the doctor prescribing it.
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.
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.
Dave and Amy Carson are residents of Glenburn, Maine and have sent their daughter, Olivia, now a sophomore, to Bangor Christian Schools. But because Olivia’s school is religious, Glenburn is prohibited from paying for Olivia’s tuition.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
Korver Ear Nose and Throat LLC owns a recently constructed medical facility in Orange City, Iowa. It would like to convert the lower level of this facility into an outpatient surgery center, but does not want to incur the enormous time, expense, and uncertainty of going through the certificate of need process, only to be denied because of its competitor’s opposition.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Esteban Narez, 26, grew up in Watsonville, California with his mother and two sisters. Esteban withdrew from high school his senior year due to a major injury. He hasn’t been able to get a GED because the medical bills and his family’s finances have forced him to work full-time ever since. Esteban wants to train as a farrier, but California won’t let him.
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.
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.
Rett owns Revolver Brewing, south of Fort Worth. He is fighting a Texas law that forces brewers to give up their distribution rights to distributors for free. Even worse, distributors can then sell those rights to other distributors and pocket the money.
Teresa Quinones, of Lawrenceville, Ga., is a mother of three young children. Her two oldest children, Audri and Christopher, attend Notre Dame Academy, thanks to Georgia’s Scholarship Tax-Credit Program.