Wilmington, N.C.—Wilmington’s vacation rental owners will have to wait a little longer to celebrate their right to rent their home. Following a decisive win on Tuesday, yesterday the city announced it would appeal the decision and asked the court to suspend enforcement of the order until the appeals process is complete. The city argued that…
Now the 5th Circuit will decide whether police officers can enforce a clearly unconstitutional law and get away with it
Arlington, Va.—Police officers swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution, but can they be held accountable when they blatantly violate that oath? The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will soon consider whether a citizen-journalist in Texas can seek justice after a retaliatory arrest and prosecution. The Institute for Justice (IJ), as part of its recently…
Case argues that police cannot seize cars indefinitely without giving owners an opportunity to plead their case in front of a judge
Today, a federal appeals court ruled that law enforcement agencies can seize and keep Americans’ cars indefinitely without giving the owners an opportunity to plead their case in front of a judge. The decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is a blow to the constitutional rights of car-owners in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana,…
Wilmington, N.C.—Today, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Richard K. Harrell ruled that Wilmington’s vacation rental law violates a North Carolina statewide law prohibiting municipalities from requiring rental permits. The decision is a win for Peg and David Schroeder, who filed the lawsuit challenging Wilmington’s ordinance imposing a 2% overall cap on vacation-rental properties and requiring…
Vegan food company Upton’s Naturals and the Plant Based Foods Association fight against compelled disclaimer as a violation of the First Amendment
OKLAHOMA CITY—All of the food Upton’s Naturals sells is proudly labeled as “100% vegan.” Even though it is already obvious that Upton’s Natural’s foods do not contain meat, a new law in Oklahoma demands that the company include a disclaimer on its label as large and prominent as the product’s name stating that the food…
U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 150 years ago held that Americans have the right to use the navigable waters of the U.S. So why, after 23 years, are the Courtney brothers still not able to use the waters of Washington’s Lake Chelan?
Arlington, Virginia—Jim and Cliff Courtney have spent 23 years trying to travel 55 miles by boat—and they have yet to reach their destination. With the petition they filed yesterday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case, the brothers hope their next stop will be before the nation’s High Court. Since 1997, the brothers from…
Amicus brief asks that government officials be held accountable for violating constitutional rights
Arlington, Va.—On October 6 of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument over whether officials from the FBI and other government agencies can be held accountable for violating Americans’ constitutional rights. The case, which was originally scheduled to be heard in March, is a unique opportunity for the Court to send a clear…
Dr. Mark Baumel, of Colon Health Centers for America, wants to increase the rate of screening for colon cancers. But when Dr. Baumel and his partners sought Virginia’s permission to buy new CT scanners, it denied them a “certificate of need.”
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.
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.
Hilda Brucker was sitting at home one day working her job as a freelance writer. The phone rang, she answered, and was told by a hostile voice that if she didn’t come down to the courthouse at once she would be given a failure to appear violation. She hastily complied. When she got there, she found out that the city had issued a citation, although it had never told her about it. She later learned the citation stated she was charged with (1) “Rotted wood on house and chipping paint on fascia boards”; (2) “High weeds in backyard and ivy on tree and vines on house”; and (3) “Driveway in a state of disrepair.” Not knowing what to do, Hilda pled guilty to the driveway charge, while the other two were dismissed. She paid a fine of $100 and was sentenced to six months probation, where she had to report to a probation officer, avoid alcoholic intoxication, and cooperate “with code enforcement upon request.” She later hired an attorney who filed a motion to vacate her sentence, but the motion was continued several times, eventually being granted only after her six-month probation would have already ended. She also obtained a home equity line of credit in case she needed to pay for any of the fixes that the city nebulously demanded.
Bonnie Ybarra was able to obtain program scholarships for two of her three elementary school-aged girls to attend private school, with her youngest daughter set to join them this year. But absent an infusion of scholarship funds into Nevada’s program, Ybarra’s girls face a return to the public-school system that previously failed to meet their educational needs.
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.
Ash Patel moved to Texas from India to pursue his American Dream of opening up an eyebrow threading salon. But in 2009, Texas demanded that eyebrow threaders obtain an expensive cosmetology license—even though beauty schools teach absolutely nothing about eyebrow threading. Ash shut down his successful business to avoid paying $2,000 in fines. He teamed up with the Institute for Justice to vindicate his rights. Six years later, IJ scored one of its most important economic liberty victories when the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state had violated the Texas Constitution by ordering threaders to obtain 750 hours of conventional cosmetology training. Threaders all over Texas are now free to work without having to obtain a government-issued license.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alan and Judy Gillis live in Orrington, Maine and send their youngest daughter, Isabella, currently a junior to Bangor Christian Schools. But because Alan and Judy have chosen a religious school for their daughter, Maine prohibits the town from paying Isabella’s tuition to Bangor Christian Schools.
In 2011, police raided Jameelah El-Shabazz’s apartment in New York City and found several cups filled with crushed eggshells, which Jameelah uses for religious purposes. Believing the cups were filled with drugs, police arrested Jameelah and her son Akin and held them in jail for a week. They also had her apartment closed . City attorneys, relying on those same discredited allegations about the cups of crushed eggshells, claimed the apartment had been the site of drug crimes, and had her apartment closed under the city’s no-fault eviction ordinance. Unable to fight back in court, Jameelah had to agree to permanently bar her son from her home in order to regain access to her own apartment.
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.
Kevin 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.
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.
The owner and operator of the Pizza di Joey food truck, Joey is challenging Baltimore’s 300-foot rule because it threatens his lifelong dream of owning his own pizza business. He also believes that the city shouldn’t be limiting hungry Baltimoreans’ dining choices.
After obtaining her private certifications in canine massage therapy, Grace started volunteering with rescue agencies and adoption events to provide canine massage for ailing and neglected dogs. She later turned her volunteer hobby into a business, which she named Pawsitive Touch.
Liz has seven children, three of whom have a severe tissue disorder called EDS which requires constant medical attention. Liz needs Nevada’s ESA so she can design a quality education for her youngest EDS child, Dallin, who will likely miss a lot of school in the future.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
After completing his military service as an Army Ranger, Jon McGlothian of Virginia Beach, Va., became a PMP-certified project manager. But Jon can’t advertise to the public or take on individual students because his school isn’t licensed by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
Jim Ficken is a 69-year-old retiree living in a modest two-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Dunedin, Florida. For letting his lawn grow too long, Jim faces nearly $29,000 in fines and has been threatened with foreclosure.
In 2014, James King, a 21-year-old college student at the time, was walking between his two summer internships in Grand Rapids. James had no idea his life was about to change when he came upon two men leaning against a black SUV. They were dressed in scruffy street clothes.
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.
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.
Ushaben used to thread part-time at the Threading Studio & Spa near New Orleans, often filling in for licensed estheticians when they were unable to work. But after state regulators ordered the business to terminate its unlicensed threaders, Ushaben is no longer permitted to thread in the studio.
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.
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.
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.