Press Releases

  • September 1, 2021    |   Private Property

    Last February, while driving down a Nevada highway on the way to visit his daughters, Stephen Lara was robbed in plain sight. But his assailants were not ordinary criminals—they were police officers from Nevada Highway Patrol. Using a controversial legal tactic called civil forfeiture, the officers fabricated a reason to stop Lara, detained him for…

  • August 30, 2021    |   Private Property

    Class Action Lawsuit Seeks to Dismantle Houston’s Illegal and Unconstitutional Forfeiture Machine

    Harris County has a practice of inventing reasons to seize motorists’ property for its own profit

    HOUSTON—Harris County police and prosecutors systematically abuse the constitutional rights of drivers, seizing cash and other property without probable cause, and quickly filing lawsuits to keep the seized cash in their own budgets using civil forfeiture. Today, the Institute for Justice (IJ)—a national nonprofit law firm—is fighting back with a class-action lawsuit challenging Harris County’s…

  • August 30, 2021    |   Economic Liberty

    Governor Signs Bill Making It Easier for Illinoisans to Sell Their Homemade and Homegrown Foods

    Home-to-Market Act eliminates a patchwork of local rules that held back food businesses

    CHICAGO—Late Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed SB 2007, the Home-to-Market Act, legislation which will allow home bakers and farmers in Illinois to sell their foods more easily. The bill sweeps away a patchwork of regulations that made it difficult for food entrepreneurs to sell directly to their customers and that severely limited how much they…

  • August 30, 2021    |   Economic Liberty

    Final Victory for Food Trucks in Fort Pierce: Judgment Proclaims City’s Former Anticompetitive Ordinance Unconstitutional

    Fort Pierce had one of the most anticompetitive vending restrictions in the country. Now, it cannot come back.

    FORT PIERCE, Fla.—Late Friday afternoon, food truck entrepreneurs Benny Diaz and Brian Peffer achieved final victory in the lawsuit they filed in December 2018 alongside the Institute for Justice (IJ) that challenged Fort Pierce’s ban on food trucks operating within 500 feet of a restaurant. This consent final judgment entered by Judge Elizabeth Metzger will…

  • August 24, 2021    |   Private Property

    Roseau Landowner Coalition Condemns Denial of Environmental Impact Statement for Roseau Lake Project

    An Environmental Impact Statement would have provided valuable information about the costs of the project. Landowners vow to keep fighting.

    ROSEAU, Minn.—Yesterday afternoon, Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) dealt a sharp blow to property rights in Roseau by announcing it would not require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its Roseau Lake Rehabilitation project. The project has generated controversy for threatening to make productive, multigenerational farmland of over fifty families unusable, as well as…

  • August 17, 2021    |   Private Property

    New Orleans Man Fights the Federal Government for His Life Savings

    Lower Ninth Ward resident had nearly $30,000 seized from him at the Columbus, Ohio airport but was never charged with a crime

    NEW ORLEANS—Kermit Warren is a hard worker, a grandfather and the head deacon of his church in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Over the years, he diligently set aside cash from his jobs, saving nearly $30,000. But now, his money is in the hands of the federal government, which is trying to take…

  • August 12, 2021

    Washington Supreme Court Finds Excessive Fines Unconstitutional

    Decision says governments must consider someone’s ability to pay before imposing fines

    SEATTLE—Today, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that depriving someone of their shelter—in this case a truck—constitutes an excessive fine under the U.S. Constitution. The case, City of Seattle v. Long, No. 98824-2, comes after the U.S. Supreme Court held three years ago that state and local governments must abide the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which prohibits…

  • August 9, 2021    |   Private Property

    Family Farm in Town of Eagle Wins Early Court Victory Against Out-of-Control Fines and Fees

    Court order halts inspection and enforcement actions that violated First Amendment right to criticize town government

    MILWAUKEE—A small, veteran-owned farm in the Town of Eagle won an early court victory in its legal challenge against fines and fees that were issued after the owners criticized local officials. In December 2020, Erica and Zach Mallory, owners of Mallory Meadows, teamed up with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to protect their home and…

  • August 9, 2021    |   Immunity and Accountability

    Supreme Court Must Decide: Will Federal Police Remain Above the Law?

    Cases Appealed to Supreme Court Seek to Hold Federal Officers Accountable for Constitutional Violations

    Arlington, Va.—Nearly 60 million Americans now live in states where federal police can escape accountability even when they clearly violate someone’s constitutional rights. But two cases appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by the Institute for Justice (IJ) seek to change that. On August 6, 2021, IJ filed two petitions with the U.S. Supreme Court…

  • August 4, 2021

    Pasco Families Win Round One in Lawsuit Challenging Predictive Policing Program

    Federal Judge Rejects County’s Attempt to Dismiss Case

    TAMPA, Fla.—Today, a federal judge dealt a blow to Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco’s Orwellian “predictive policing” program. Judge Steven D. Merryday issued an order denying the Sheriff’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a group of residents targeted by the county’s controversial practice of identifying and harassing supposed “future criminals”—including kids under the…

  • August 4, 2021    |   Private Property

    Victory for One U.S. Private Vaults Box Renter: Faced With Court Order, FBI Will Return Seized Cash

    Following a court order directing the FBI to justify its seizure of Joseph Ruiz’s $57,000, the FBI is giving the property back.

    LOS ANGELES—More than four months after the FBI seized the $57,000 in cash that Joseph Ruiz kept in his safe deposit box, the government has finally thrown in the towel and agreed to return his money. Yesterday’s filing comes after United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner issued an order on July 23 directing the…

  • August 2, 2021    |   Private Property

    In an extensive report released late last week, a special commission created by the Massachusetts Legislature urged lawmakers to overhaul civil forfeiture, which lets law enforcement seize and keep property without prosecutors ever charging anyone with a crime. Although civil forfeiture is often defended as a way to target drug kingpins, the reality is far…

  • August 2, 2021    |   Private Property

    Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed the Illinois Vegetable Garden Protection Act (HB 633), a bill that will preserve and protect the right of all Illinoisans to “cultivate vegetable gardens on their own property.” Introduced by Rep. Sonya Harper, the Act will protect the right to grow vegetables, as well as “herbs, fruits, flowers, pollinator…

  • July 27, 2021    |   Private Property

    Minnesota DNR Announces One-Month Delay On Controversial Roseau Lake Project Environmental Impact Statement

    An Environmental Impact Statement would provide much-needed information about the environmental damage the project will cause to the area

    ROSEAU, Minn.—Yesterday morning, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced a 30-day delay on the decision about whether or not it will issue an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Roseau Lake Rehabilitation Project. The project has generated controversy for its effects on the productive farmland owned by over fifty families who’ve farmed the…

  • July 23, 2021    |   First Amendment

    Unique Richmond Publisher Will Appeal After D.C. Judge Insists It Must Give the Government Free Copies of Its Books

    U.S. Copyright Office demands books, threatens thousands in fines, offers nothing in return

    WASHINGTON—Valancourt Books, a small Richmond publisher, will appeal a decision issued today by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia holding that Valancourt must provide the government with free copies of its books. In 2018, Valancourt teamed up with the Institute for Justice to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Copyright Office after…

  • July 22, 2021    |   Economic Liberty

    Washington Woman Claims Victory for the Right to Feed Others in Need

    Clarkston homeowner wins right to run a “Little Free Pantry”

    CLARKSTON, Wash.—When Kathy Hay saw her neighbors in need, she decided to help. She decided the best way to meet that need was to build a “little free pantry” to share food with her community. The idea took off immediately, and Kathy’s neighbors pitched in and donated enough food to serve dozens of people in…

  • July 22, 2021

    New Report Uncovers the Shocking Student Debt Burden Utah Beauty School Students Take On

    Cosmetology students rarely graduate on time and struggle to earn enough to pay their loans

    ARLINGTON, Va.—A new report reveals for the first time the shocking amount of debt Utah beauty school students take on only to end up in jobs that rarely pay off in terms of earnings. The examination of federal data on cosmetology schools nationwide shows that state-mandated education often fails aspiring beauty workers. Specifically, the new…

  • July 22, 2021    |   Economic Liberty

    New Report Uncovers the Shocking Student Debt Burden Beauty School Students Take On

    Cosmetology students borrow more in federal student loans than most students, rarely graduate on time and struggle to earn enough to pay their loans

    ARLINGTON, Va.—A new report out today reveals for the first time the shocking amount of debt beauty school students take on only to end up in jobs that rarely pay off in terms of earnings. The examination of federal data on cosmetology schools nationwide shows that state-mandated education often fails aspiring beauty workers. Specifically, the…

  • July 21, 2021

    Entrepreneurship Advocates Praise City Council Approval of Sign Permit Reforms

    Institute for Justice Clinic: “Reform of the convoluted sign permit process has been a long time in coming.”

    CHICAGO—At a meeting this afternoon, the Chicago City Council voted to reform the city’s sign permit process to speed up approvals. Under the proposal, the full City Council would no longer need to vote on individual sign permits unless the local alderman and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection disagree on whether one…

  • July 16, 2021    |   Private Property

    Federal Judge Again Slams the Door on FBI Efforts to Forfeit Property Seized in U.S. Private Vaults Raid

    Court again tells government that it cannot take people’s property without first saying what it thinks they did wrong

    LOS ANGELES—In an order issued this morning, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner stopped the government from permanently taking the property of two people who rented boxes at U.S. Private Vaults. Joseph Ruiz and Travis May each had their valuables seized during the FBI’s March raid on the business. And while neither has been accused…

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