Frustrating, Corrupt, Unfair

Civil Forfeiture in the Words of Its Victims

  • October 20, 2021    |   

    Frustrating, Corrupt, Unfair

    Civil Forfeiture in the Words of Its Victims

    Victims of civil forfeiture call it frustrating, corrupt and unfair. This first-of-its-kind survey describes the experiences of victims of one civil forfeiture program, Philadelphia’s. It finds victims typically came from disadvantaged communities, and they had extreme difficulty trying to fight the forfeiture of their property, even when innocent. It also suggests the program did little…

  • July 7, 2021    |    Strategic Research

    Cosmetology is one of the most widely and onerously regulated occupations for lower-income workers, yet little research has explored the experiences of aspiring beauty workers. This first-of-its-kind study takes advantage of federal educational data—including a large, and largely untapped, dataset on nondegree credentials and work experience programs—to find out what it looks like to complete…

  • June 21, 2021    |    Strategic Research

    Beauty School Debt and Drop-Outs

    How Utah Cosmetology Licensing Fails Aspiring Beauty Workers

    A January 2021 executive order requires Utah executive agencies to identify occupational regulations that are no longer necessary or can be reined in to reduce barriers to entry. One regulation that should be on the table is cosmetology licensing. This policy brief draws on a national study to explore the experiences of people pursuing cosmetology careers in Utah. Key…

  • June 10, 2021    |   

    Blueprint for Business

    Cutting Red Tape and Supporting DC Entrepreneurs

  • June 2, 2021    |    Scholarly Articles

    This study examines taxation by citation—local governments using code enforcement and the justice system to raise revenue rather than solely to advance public health and safety. It does so through a detailed case study of Morrow, Riverdale, and Clarkston, three Georgia cities with a history of prolific revenue generation through fines and fees from traffic…

  • March 9, 2021    |    Scholarly Articles

    In this article, Michael Bindas discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department for Revenue, in which the Court held that states cannot bar families participating in educational choice programs from choosing religious schools for their children. The article focuses not only on what the Court decided in Espinoza, but also on…

  • February 22, 2021    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Educational choice programs—defined broadly as programs that provide parents with financial aid to help their children opt out of the traditional public school system—are a hallmark of meaningful educational reform. Yet despite widespread news coverage of such programs, polls show most Americans are unfamiliar with how educational choice programs work. Opponents of educational choice routinely…

  • February 10, 2021    |    Strategic Research

    Does Forfeiture Work? Evidence from the States February 2021 | By Brian D. Kelly, Ph.D. Forfeiture is a controversial tool police and prosecutors use to take and keep people’s cash, cars and even homes under the guise of fighting crime. This study is the first to look at whether state forfeiture actually fights crime or is…

  • January 14, 2021    |    Scholarly Articles

    This research note reports on the creation of a new panel dataset using multiple waves of substate estimates from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It also provides identifying information that contains state, place, and/or agency codes for merging additional datasets at levels below the state. The process for creating this dataset and…

  • December 14, 2020    |    Strategic Research

    Nationwide, civil forfeiture is a massive threat to property and due process rights. So finds the third edition of Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture. The report presents the largest ever collection of state and federal forfeiture data—17 million data points—and grades the civil forfeiture laws of each state, the District of Columbia and the federal government. The report also includes a new analysis finding no increase in crime after New Mexico abolished civil forfeiture and the profit incentive in 2015, showing that strong forfeiture reform does not sacrifice public safety.

  • August 19, 2020    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Conning the Competition

    A Nationwide Survey of Certificate of Need Laws

    A certificate of need (CON) is a government-mandated permission slip to start or expand a business. Think of a CON like an expensive admission ticket to access an exclusive club. You can be sure that those who are lucky enough to get in do their best to keep others out. CON programs were conceived with…

  • July 16, 2020    |    Strategic Research

    Jetway Robbery?

    Homeland Security and Cash Seizures at Airports

    Law enforcement agencies routinely seize currency from travelers at airports nationwide using civil forfeiture—a legal process that allows agencies to take and keep property without ever charging owners with a crime, let alone securing a conviction. This study is the first to examine airport currency seizures by Department of Homeland Security agencies. It is also…

  • July 6, 2020    |    Strategic Research

    Over the course of the last few decades, the law has gradually changed to recognize the constitutionality of educational choice programs and that its beneficiaries are students, not schools. The most recent development is Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, in which the United States Supreme Court declared that the Constitution forbids states from excluding…

  • June 22, 2020    |    Perspectives on Economic Liberty

    Barred From Working

    A Nationwide Study of Occupational Licensing Barriers for People with Criminal Records

    Earning an honest living is one of the best ways to prevent re-offending. But strict occupational licensing requirements make it harder for people with criminal records to find work, thwarting their chances of successful reentry. Along with other “collateral consequences,” like losing the right to vote or the ability to receive government assistance, individuals can be denied a license to work simply because of their criminal record.

    This report provides the most up-to-date account of occupational licensing barriers for ex-offenders and will be regularly updated whenever a state changes its laws. Using 10 distinct criteria, this report grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their legal protections for licensing applicants with criminal records. (See Methodology.)

    • The average state grade is a C. Nationwide, 10 states—Arizona, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington—plus the District of Columbia earned a B or better. Reflecting the surge of interest in this issue, 10 of those 11 jurisdictions have reformed their licensing laws since 2015.
    • The District of Columbia and Iowa tied for first. In contrast, four states—Alabama, Alaska, Nevada, and South Dakota—were tied for last, receiving a zero on a 100-point scale for their lack of protections for ex-offenders seeking licenses.
  • April 30, 2020    |    Strategic Research

    Cities and towns nationwide use their power to enforce traffic, property code and other ordinances to raise revenue rather than solely to protect the public. And, as this report finds, a wide range of state laws may enable or even encourage such taxation by citation. This report is the first comprehensive accounting of state laws relating to municipal fines and fees. It uses 52 legal factors to rank the 50 states based on the extent to which their laws may contribute to municipal fines and fees abuse. The rankings offer a systematic way to diagnose possible relationships between state laws and municipal behavior—and to identify potential policy solutions.

  • November 19, 2019    |    Strategic Research

    This report supplements our 2016 study Barriers to Braiding: How Job-Killing Licensing Laws Tangle Natural Hair Care in Needless Red Tape. That study investigated whether (1) braiding licenses keep people out of work and (2) braiding poses risks that justify occupational licensing. This report uses data from Illinois that we intended to include in Barriers…

  • October 24, 2019    |    Strategic Research

    The Price of Taxation by Citation

    Case Studies of Three Georgia Cities That Rely Heavily on Fines and Fees

    Taxation by citation is when local governments use their power to enforce traffic and other ordinances to raise revenue rather than solely to protect the public. This report explores the phenomenon via case studies of three Georgia cities that have historically relied on fines and fees from ordinance violations for large proportions of their revenues.…

  • September 17, 2019    |    Scholarly Articles

    The question of whether the Constitution allows the government to change the meanings of words is receiving renewed interest in the aftermath of the FDA’s announcement that it intends to examine whether it should begin enforcing milk “standard of identity” regulations. These restrict the use of the word “milk” to cow’s milk and thus ban…

  • June 7, 2019    |    Strategic Research

    Fighting Crime or Raising Revenue?

    Testing Opposing Views of Forfeiture

    Forfeiture is a controversial tool governments use to take and keep property often without charging or convicting anyone with a crime. Police typically get a portion of the proceeds. Proponents argue forfeiture helps police fight crime, while critics counter letting police keep forfeiture proceeds encourages “policing for profit.” To test these opposing claims, this study—the…

  • April 10, 2019    |    Scholarly Articles

    The relationship between cottage food laws and business outcomes

    A quantitative study of cottage food producers in the United States

    The increasing popularity of cottage foods in the United States requires that state laws regulating the industry be given careful consideration. However, little is known about cottage food producers or their businesses. This article discusses results from the first comprehensive survey of cottage food producers in the United States. Linear and logistic regression analyses of…

  • April 10, 2019    |    Scholarly Articles

    In 2014, Tyson Timbs sold $400 worth of drugs to undercover police in an effort to support his addiction. Tyson, a first-time offender, was sentenced to one year of house arrest and five years of probation and ordered to pay more than $1,200 in fines and fees. After Tyson paid his debt to society and…

  • December 10, 2018    |    Strategic Research

    Forfeiture in Arizona

    An Institute for Justice Analysis of FY2018 Reporting Data

    In 2017, Arizona adopted incremental but important bipartisan reforms of the state’s civil forfeiture system. These reforms included new transparency requirements for forfeiture, obliging agencies to report the value, type and date of a property seizure, whether any criminal charges were filed, and the final disposition of the seized property. This reporting reform was designed…

  • December 7, 2018    |    Strategic Research

    Civil Forfeiture, Crime Fighting and Safeguards for the Innocent

    An Analysis of Department of Justice Forfeiture Data

    In 2017, the Department of Justice revived a controversial federal forfeiture program the previous administration had sharply curtailed. In defense of these “adoptive forfeitures” or “adoptions,” as well as of civil forfeiture in general, the DOJ claims that 1) civil forfeiture overwhelmingly targets criminals, not innocents, and is thus a valuable crime-fighting tool and 2)…

  • November 15, 2018    |    Strategic Research

    Ready to Roll

    Nine Lessons from Ending Wisconsin's Home-Baking Ban

    Most states have “cottage food laws,” which regulate the sale of homemade foods. The specifics vary from state to state, but most such laws restrict the types of homemade foods that may be sold. Research suggests such restrictions may hinder entrepreneurship. Now, a recent change in Wisconsin law provides an opportunity to examine what it…

  • November 14, 2018    |    Strategic Research

    At What Cost

    State and National Estimates of the Economic Costs of Occupational Licensing

    Not only do state occupational licensing laws force people to spend a lot of time and money earning a license instead of earning a living, they also impose real economic costs. This study takes advantage of a uniquely large dataset to offer the first state-level estimates of licensing’s economic costs for 36 states, as well…

  • October 18, 2018    |    Scholarly Articles

    This study follows up an earlier study in which we examined the scope and burden of 102 occupational licensing laws in the United States for low‐ and moderate‐income occupations. Using data collected in 2017, findings indicate that the licences studied require of aspiring workers, on average, US$262 in fees, one exam, and about 12 months…

  • October 5, 2018    |    Strategic Research

    Regulatory Overdrive

    Taxi Regulations, Market Concentration and Service Availability

    Traditional taxis are highly regulated in most American cities, with local regulators determining everything from how many taxis can be licensed to the types of services they can provide to the fares they can charge to where they can pick up customers. But does all this regulation make sense? To begin to answer this question,…

  • August 13, 2018    |    Scholarly Articles

    In 2013, Heather Kokesch Del Castillo found herself in an unfulfilling career and began to question whether she was following her true passion. At the same time, she was growing increasingly dissatisfied with her physical fitness. She joined a local gym to make fitness a priority again. Suggested citation: Carpenter, D. M. (2018, Summer). You’ll…

  • August 9, 2018    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Expropriation in Puerto Rico

    Policy Brief and Report Card

    In a new report (released August 6), the Institute for Justice (IJ) gives Puerto Rico’s eminent domain laws a grade of “F.” IJ is a nonprofit, civil liberties law firm dedicated to ending eminent domain abuse:  when the government seizes private property not for traditional public uses, but for private development. The report examines Puerto…

  • August 1, 2018    |    Scholarly Articles

    The data described in this article come from an original survey of street vendors in the 50 largest cities in the United States. One of the most persistent, although little understood, features of the urban American environment, street vending is defined as “the retail or wholesale trading of goods and services in streets and other…

  • June 15, 2018    |    Strategic Research

    A Golden Opportunity for the Golden State

    How SB 946 Would Protect Sidewalk Vendors—and the Public

    California’s sidewalk vendors face a patchwork of arbitrary and anticompetitive rules that make it difficult—or even impossible—to ply their chosen trade and share in the prosperity of the United States’ largest economy. Now the California Legislature is considering a bill, SB 946, that would protect the rights of these entrepreneurs by providing a framework within…

  • May 1, 2018    |    Scholarly Articles

    On a cool, sunny November day, Mark Brewer – a disabled decorated U.S. Air Force veteran – was driving through the state of Nebraska on his way to Los Angles to visit his uncle. While there, Brewer planned to make a down payment on a house. To that end, he was carrying more than $60,000…

  • December 7, 2017    |    Strategic Research

    Flour Power

    How Cottage Food Entrepreneurs Are Using Their Home Kitchens to Become Their Own Bosses

    All across the country, thousands of Americans are making food at home to sell in their communities. Together, they form the small but growing “cottage food” industry. With renewed interest in this age-old industry, laws are being made with little understanding of cottage food producers and their businesses. This first-of-its-kind study surveyed 775 cottage food…

  • December 5, 2017    |    Strategic Research

    Finding the American Dream at Home

    How Home-Based Businesses Benefit Entrepreneurs and Their Communities

    Across the country, millions of enterprising people are running businesses out of their homes. This report outlines the myriad benefits of home-based businesses and suggests that government regulations curtailing them are short-sighted. It details how home-based businesses make entrepreneurship possible for people of all different backgrounds and socio-economic circumstances, all while making meaningful contributions to…

  • November 13, 2017    |    Strategic Research

    Today, more Americans than ever must get a government permission slip before they can earn an honest living, thanks to the spread of occupational licensing laws. Licensing laws now guard entry into hundreds of occupations, including jobs that offer upward mobility to those of modest means, such as cosmetologist, auctioneer, athletic trainer and landscape contractor.…

  • November 13, 2017    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    The Inverted Pyramid

    10 Less Restrictive Alternatives to Occupational Licensing

    When it comes to occupational regulation, policymakers may see their options as action or inaction: licensing or no licensing. In fact, policymakers can choose from a plethora of alternatives that provide the purported benefits of licensing, without the downsides. This paper discusses 10 less restrictive alternatives to licensing that can protect consumers as well as…

  • September 7, 2017    |    Scholarly Articles

    In this article, Nat Malkus and Tim Keller outline the federal laws that protect students with disabilities, give an overview of school choice programs, and explain how participating in school choice programs affects the rights of students with disabilities. They summarize arguments against students with disabilities participating in school choice programs and offer counterarguments and…

  • August 23, 2017    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Educational choice programs—defined broadly as programs that provide parents financial aid to opt their children out of the traditional public school system—have been a topic of significant public discussion and debate in recent months. Despite the increasing news coverage, however, polls show that most Americans are unfamiliar with educational choice programs. Opponents of educational choice…

  • June 26, 2017    |    Scholarly Articles

    At this moment, a campaign is being waged in America’s state capitals. Its purpose? To protect the public from the menace of unregulated music therapists. A music therapist “directs and participates in instrumental and vocal music activities designed to meet patients’ physical or psychological needs.” Whatever one thinks of this work, it is difficult to imagine…

  • January 16, 2017    |    Strategic Research

    Every year, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies across the United States seize and keep billions of dollars in cash, cars, homes and other property using a legal tool called forfeiture. Criminal forfeiture requires that prosecutors prove people are guilty by securing a conviction before forfeiting their property as part of their punishment. But…

  • October 19, 2016    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Opportunity Lost

    How Chicago’s food truck proximity ban hinders economic opportunity and stifles consumer choice

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says his “administration is committed to creating the conditions and opportunities that will allow this industry [food trucks] to thrive, create jobs and support a vibrant food culture across Chicago.” But actions speak louder than words, and a new analysis of data obtained through the lawsuit finds that the city’s protectionist…

  • October 5, 2016    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Enforcing the Constitution

    How the Courts Performed in 2015-2016

    The Constitution was written to limit government power, but those limits are meaningless unless judges restrain public officials when they overstep their bounds. Judicial engagement is a cutting-edge approach to judicial review that ensures that Americans receive an honest, reasoned explanation in court whenever they allege a plausible abuse of government power.  Enforcing the Constitution…

  • October 1, 2016    |    Strategic Research

    Putting Licensing to the Test

    How Licenses for Tour Guides Fail Consumers—and Guides

    More Americans than ever need a license to work. But what do occupational licenses actually accomplish? This case study of one such license adds to a growing body of research that suggests this red tape does nothing but create needless barriers to work. It finds that a licensing scheme for tour guides in the District…

  • September 30, 2016    |    Scholarly Articles


    A Hierarchy of Regulatory Options

    Momentum is growing in favor of reining in excessive occupational licensing. However, policymaking in this arena is too often plagued by assumptions that the only regulatory options are no licensing or full licensing. Such binary thinking sees policymakers swayed by specious claims that licensing is necessary to protect public health and safety or to promote…

  • September 1, 2016    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Throughout the nation, cities and counties are looking for ways to promote economic liberty and improve the well-being of their residents But all too often this desire to improve economic conditions manifests itself in expensive and wasteful corporate welfare, public investment in real estate schemes, quaint-but-inefficient forms of mass transit, and other counterproductive uses of…

  • July 19, 2016    |    Strategic Research

    Barriers to Braiding

    How Job-Killing Licensing Laws Tangle Natural Hair Care in Needless Red Tape

    African-style hair braiding is a time-tested and natural craft. Yet most states force braiders to get a government license and take hundreds or even thousands of hours of classes to work legally. This study finds that such onerous licensing has nothing to do with protecting public health and safety. Instead, it just keeps braiders out…

  • March 16, 2016    |    Strategic Research

    On Common Constitutional Ground

    How Georgia’s Scholarship Tax Credits Mirror Other State Programs and Expand Educational Opportunity

    Launched in 2008, Georgia’s scholarship tax credit program will help over 13,000 children get the best education for their needs at secular and religious private schools this year. But in 2014 school choice opponents sued to end the program, calling it unconstitutional. This report finds, however, that the scholarship tax credit is just one of…

  • November 10, 2015    |    Strategic Research

    Policing for Profit: Second Edition

    The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture: 2nd Edition

    Civil forfeiture laws pose some of the greatest threats to property rights in the nation today, too often making it easy and lucrative for law enforcement to take and keep property—regardless of the owner’s guilt or innocence. This updated and expanded second edition of Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture makes the…

  • October 6, 2015    |    Strategic Research

    Upwardly Mobile

    Street Vending and the American Dream

    As old as the country itself, American street vending has never been more prominent. It’s the subject of television shows, think pieces and—less happily—burdensome regulations in cities nationwide. Yet hard data about vendors and their economic contributions have been hard to come by—until now. Alongside the stories of a diverse group of vendors, Upwardly Mobile:…

  • October 5, 2015    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Enforcing the Constitution

    How the Courts Performed in 2014–2015

    The Constitution was written to limit government power, but those limits are meaningless unless judges restrain public officials when they overstep their bounds. Judicial engagement is a cutting-edge approach to judicial review that ensures that Americans receive an honest, reasoned explanation in court whenever they allege a plausible abuse of government power.  Enforcing the Constitution…

  • March 16, 2015    |    Scholarly Articles

    In May 2013, newspaper columnist John Rosemond received a cease-and-desist letter from the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology informing him that his syndicated column — in which he answers readers’ questions about parenting — constitutes the unlicensed and, hence, criminal practice of psychology. Although the Board concedes that Rosemond may publish general advice about…

  • March 1, 2015    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Boards Behaving Badly

    How States Can Prevent Licensing Boards From Restraining Competition, Harming Consumers, and Generating Legal Liability Under North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC

    In a nutshell, states should: Charge an independent “licensing ombudsman” with reviewing the actions of state licensing boards; Charge the licensing ombudsman with a mandate to promote economic competition; Make the ombudsman responsible for conducting periodic reviews to identify ways to reduce licensing burdens; and Eliminate licensing altogether for occupations where it is unnecessary.

  • February 1, 2015    |    Scholarly Articles

    Regulating work

    Measuring the scope and burden of occupational licensure among low- and moderate-income occupations in the United States

    This study examines the scope and burden of occupational licensing laws in the United States for 102 low- and moderate-income occupations. Findings indicate that the licences studied require of aspiring workers, on average, $US209 in fees, one exam, and about nine months of education and training, plus minimum grade and age levels. Data also indicate…

  • February 1, 2015    |    Strategic Research

    Seize First, Question Later

    The IRS and Civil Forfeiture

    Thanks to federal civil forfeiture laws, the Internal Revenue Service has seized millions of dollars from thousands of Americans’ bank accounts without proof of criminal wrongdoing.

  • January 1, 2015    |    Scholarly Articles

    When legal is not ethical

    The case of civil forfeiture

    Civil forfeiture laws in the United States facilitate, indeed encourage, unethical behavior on the part of law enforcement officials. Civil forfeiture is a mechanism by which law enforcement agencies can seize property merely with a suspicion that it is connected to a crime and even if the owner has not been accused or convicted of…

  • October 11, 2014    |   
  • October 1, 2014    |   

    The most important debate in constitutional law today is within the conservative-libertarian movement over the proper role of courts in mediating personal freedom and government power. At one end of the spectrum are those who support robust judicial review and the protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the text of the Constitution; at the…

  • September 8, 2014    |    Strategic Research

    Bad Apples or Bad Laws?

    Testing the Incentives of Civil Forfeiture

    An original experiment finds that civil forfeiture laws create a strong temptation for law enforcement to seize property to pad their own budgets.

  • September 1, 2014    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide

    How to Succeed in Your Fight for Economic Liberty

    You have the right to earn an honest living. This is called “economic liberty” and it is protected by the U.S. Constitution. But often, entrepreneurs face burdensome, arbitrary and anti-competitive laws that make it difficult, if not impossible, to earn an honest living in the occupation of their choosing. If you are an entrepreneur struggling…

  • August 18, 2014    |   
  • July 1, 2014    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Untangling Regulations

    Natural Hair Braiders Fight Against Irrational Licensing

    Natural hair braiding is a beauty practice popular among many African, African-American and immigrant communities in the United States. But braiders in many states have to endure hundreds of hours of unnecessary coursework and pay thousands of dollars before they can legally work.

  • June 1, 2014    |    Strategic Research

    Street Eats, Safe Eats

    How Food Trucks and Carts Stack Up to Restaurants on Sanitation

    Street food, long a part of American life, has boomed in popularity in recent years. Yet an idea persists that food from trucks and sidewalk carts is unclean and unsafe. Street Eats, Safe Eats tests that common, but unsubstantiated claim by reviewing more than 260,000 food-safety inspection reports from seven large American cities. In each…

  • June 1, 2014    |    Perspectives on Economic Liberty

    Today’s bans and strict regulations ultimately limit the choices available to eaters—which include quite literally everyone—and, in the process, prevent food entrepreneurs from earning an honest living.

  • March 1, 2014    |   

    Every person who goes into court deserves a sincere, impartial judge. A substantial portion of American constitutional doctrine is devoted to ensuring they don’t get one. What civil rights plaintiffs often get instead is a judge who wears the garb of a referee while actively playing defense for the home team. The call for “judicial…

  • February 1, 2014    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Florida’s Dirty Dozen

    Twelve Repealers That Can Boost Business, Create Jobs,and Change Florida’s Economic Policy for the Better

    Florida legislators can make Florida more business friendly by repealing 12 anticompetitive, senseless and arbitrary laws that hold back entrepreneurs.

  • February 1, 2014    |    Strategic Research

    Opening the Schoolhouse Doors

    Tax Credits and Educational Access in Alabama

    Alabama’s scholarship tax credit programs follow in the footsteps of at least six similar tax credits dating to the 1970s that give students a choice of public, private or religious schools, demonstrating that scholarship tax credits are constitutional.

  • January 1, 2014    |    Scholarly Articles

    One of the significant challenges facing licensing professionals is striking the most effective, efficient and just balance between regulation of occupations and preserving occupational practice free from unnecessary government restrictions. As discussed in greater detail below, there are at least two reasons—legal and economic—why finding such a balance is important. The first—legal—grows out of the…

  • August 1, 2013    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Terms of Engagement

    How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution's Promise of Limited Government

    The Constitution was designed to limit government power and protect individuals from the tyranny of majorities and interest-group politics. But those protections are meaningless without judges who are fully committed to enforcing them, and America’s judges have largely abdicated that responsibility. All too often, instead of judging the constitutionality of government action, courts simply rationalize…

  • June 26, 2013    |   

    The public’s right to know versus compelled speech

    What does social science research tell us about the benefits and costs of campaign finance disclosure in non-candidate elections?

  • May 27, 2013    |   

    The Public’s Right to Know versus Compelled Speech

    What Does Social Science Research Tell Us about the Benefits and Costs of Campaign Finance Disclosure in Non-Candidate Elections?

    In this Article, we question neither the desirability of creating transparency in the ties between candidates and their contributors, nor the efficacy of disclosure regulations in affecting this end. This is despite the fact that several recent studies cast doubt on the extent to which state campaign finance laws reduce either corruption or the appearance…

  • April 1, 2013    |    Strategic Research

    White Out

    How Dental Industry Insiders Thwart Competition from Teeth-whitening Entrepreneurs

    As the teeth-whitening industry has exploded in recent years, so too has the push for laws and regulations that enable licensed dentists and hygienists to capture a greater share of that market by banning anyone else from offering teeth-whitening services. This study investigates this expansion of dental licensing as a form of economic protectionism, where…

  • January 1, 2013    |    Strategic Research

    A Stacked Deck

    How Minnesota's Civil Forfeiture Laws Put Citizens' Property at Risk

    State data show that from 2003 to 2010, forfeiture revenue in Minnesota jumped 75 percent, even as crime rates declined, and the average value of forfeited property was only $1,000.

  • January 1, 2013    |    Strategic Research

    Rotten Reporting in the Peach State

    Civil Forfeiture in Georgia Leaves the Public in the Dark

    Georgia has some of the worst civil forfeiture laws in the nation, a problem compounded by law enforcement agencies’ routine failure to report forfeiture revenue and expenditures as required by law. But a 2011 Institute for Justice lawsuit forced some agencies to begin filing reports, and a new requirement that agencies post these reports online…

  • December 1, 2012    |    Strategic Research

    Arizona’s Profit Incentive in Civil Forfeiture

    Dangerous for law enforcement; Dangerous for Arizonans

    Arizona’s civil forfeiture laws need to be reformed. In the upside-down world of civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize and keep cash and property that was allegedly involved in criminal activity—without ever proving a crime was actually committed. Unlike criminal forfeiture, with civil forfeiture a property owner need not be found guilty of a…

  • November 1, 2012    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Seven Myths and Realities about Food Trucks

    Why the Facts Support Food-Truck Freedom

    Using facts and real-world examples, IJ shows that there is no basis for the argument that restaurants need government intervention to “protect” them from food trucks.

  • November 1, 2012    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Food-Truck Freedom

    How to Build Better Food-Truck Laws in Your City

    In order to foster the conditions that will let food trucks thrive, this report offers recommendations based on the legislative best practices of Los Angeles and other cities.

  • May 1, 2012    |    Strategic Research

    License to Work: First Edition

    A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing

    License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing is the first national study to measure how burdensome occupational licensing laws are for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs. The report documents the license requirements for 102 low- and moderate-income occupations—such as barber, massage therapist and preschool teacher—across all 50 states and the District…

  • April 7, 2012    |    Scholarly Articles

    This study examines hypothesized benefits associated with occupational licensing in one long-regulated industry in Louisiana—floristry—in order to determine to what extent licensing results in theorized benefits that might justify the costs associated with licensure systems. Results indicate the regulation appears not to result in a statistically significant difference in quality of product. Moreover, floristjudges, whether…

  • April 1, 2012    |   

    This study examines hypothesized benefits associated with occupational licensing in one long-regulated industry in Louisiana—floristry—in order to determine to what extent licensing results in theorized benefits that might justify the costs associated with licensure systems. Results indicate the regulation appears not to result in a statistically significant difference in quality of product. Moreover, florist-judges, whether…

  • December 1, 2011    |   

    In an October 2009 Urban Studies article, Dick Carpenter and John Ross present new research on eminent domain in the US. The authors study areas where local governments plan to acquire property via eminent domain and convey that property to other private owners. They show that area residents are disproportionately members of “less politically powerful…

  • December 1, 2011    |    Strategic Research

    Expanding Choice

    Tax Credits and Educational Access in Idaho

    Scholarship tax credits would expand educational opportunities for Idaho families, building on long-standing state policies encouraging private investments in education, as well as successful school choice programs in other states.

  • December 1, 2011    |    Strategic Research

    Opening the Schoolhouse Doors

    Indiana's Choice Scholarship Program Extends Long History of Choice-Based Aid

    Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program empowers thousands of families to choose the best K-12 schools for their children—public, private or religious—just like state-funded college scholarship programs have done for decades.

  • November 22, 2011    |    Scholarly Articles

    In this report, Director of Strategic Research Dick Carpenter responds to commentary on his article about the effects of eminent domain on poor and minority communities. Suggested citation: Carpenter, D. M. (2011). Comment on Carpenter and Ross (2009): Eminent domain and equity—A reply. Urban Studies, 48(16), 3621-3628. Click here to read the full report.

  • October 1, 2011    |    Strategic Research

    Inequitable Justice

    How Federal "Equitable Sharing" Encourages Local Police and Prosecutors to Evade State Civil Forfeiture Law for Financial Gain

    This report examines a federal law enforcement practice known as “equitable sharing.” It enables—indeed, encourages—state and local police and prosecutors to circumvent the civil forfeiture laws of their states for financial gain. Civil forfeiture is the government power to take property suspected of involvement in a crime. Unlike criminal forfeiture—used to take the ill-gotten gains…

  • October 1, 2011    |    Strategic Research

    Full Disclosure

    How Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws Fail to Inform Voters and Stifle Public Debate

    Publicly disclosing contributions to ballot issue campaigns does little to help voters make better choices—and instead imposes substantial costs on people wishing to participate in politics.

  • September 1, 2011    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Government Unchecked

    The False Problem of "Judicial Activism" and the Need for Judicial Engagement

    The past five decades have seen a relentless expansion in the size of government and a sharp increase in the num­ber of liberty-stifling laws and regulations at every level. Despite this explosion of political power, commentators and scholars of all ideological stripes appear to worry more about the supposed growth of judicial power. Those who…

  • July 1, 2011    |    Strategic Research

    Streets of Dreams

    How Cities Can Create Economic Opportunity by Knocking Down Protectionist Barriers to Street Vending

    Street vending is, and always has been, a part of the American economy and a fixture of urban life. Thanks to low start-up costs, the trade has offered countless entrepreneurs—particularly immigrants and others with little income or capital—opportunities for self-sufficiency and upward mobility. At the same time, vendors enrich their communities by providing access to…

  • June 1, 2011    |    Strategic Research

    In November 2010, as part of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study National Survey, the Institute for Justice asked a random sample of 1,000 participants nationwide whether they support various features of modern civil forfeiture laws. The results reported below show that the public overwhelmingly favors reform that would extend greater protections to property owners and…

  • April 8, 2011    |    Scholarly Articles

    Can occupational titles mislead the public? Should the use of titles be regulated to protect against such a possibility? Traditionally, occupational regulation is conceptualized as a restriction on the practice of an occupation through licensure, often called market shelters (Freidson 1970a; 1970b; Timmermans, 2008). Another less-discussed form of regulation includes titling laws, where the practice…

  • April 7, 2011    |    Scholarly Articles

    This study examines the effects of entrepreneurship through qualitative case study methods. It examines the life and work of a single small-business entrepreneur in Tupelo, MS to discern how she affects her community both economically and non-economically. Results from the interviews, observations, and document analysis reveal the entrepreneur, an African American hairbraider, role-models entrepreneurship to…

  • April 1, 2011    |   

    This study examines the effects of entrepreneurship through qualitative case study methods. It examines the life and work of a single small-business entrepreneur in Tupelo, MS to discern how she affects her community both economically and non-economically. Results from the interviews, observations, and document analysis reveal the entrepreneur, an African American hairbraider, role-models entrepreneurship to…

  • March 1, 2011    |    Strategic Research

    Forfeiting Accountability

    Georgia Law Enforcement's Hidden Civil Forfeiture Funds

    Georgia has some of the worst civil forfeiture laws in the country. But at least state law requires law enforcement to publicly report annual forfeiture proceeds and expenditures. Public reporting ought to help check abuse and prevent forfeiture funds from becoming off-the-books slush funds. Unfortunately, Forfeiting Accountability, like an earlier state audit, finds that these…

  • November 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Forfeiting Justice

    How Texas Police and Prosecutors Cash In On Seized Property

    Texas law gives police and prosecutors generous rewards for seizing people’s property—without even having to prove the owner committed any crime. And the law makes it so hard for owners to fight for the return of their property that many give up without even trying. As Forfeiting Justice shows, Texas law enforcement agencies have increasingly…

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Regulatory Field

    Home of Chicago Laws

    This report examines government-created barriers in industries that have traditionally provided a better way of life for the economically disenfranchised.

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Houston, We Have a Problem

    Space City Regulations Prevent Entrepreneurs From Taking Off

    This report focuses on the areas Houston needs to improve in order to remain an opportunity city for all.

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    L.A. vs. Small Business

    City of Angels No Heaven for Entrepreneurs

    Los Angeles entrepreneurs are being strangled by red tape, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for entrepreneurs to earn an honest living in the City of Angels.

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Miami’s Vice

    Overregulating Entrepreneurs

    Many Miami entrepreneurs are subject to occupation- or industry-specific regulations, which can take years of arbitrary education and cost thousands of dollars. Small business owners also must comply with paperwork and red tape that is complicated, expensive and time-consuming.

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    No Work in Newark

    City Must Free Entrepreneurs

    This study examines grassroots entrepreneurship in Newark and offers practical recommendations on how the city, which has become synonymous with urban dysfunction, could reform its laws and practices to encourage more small businesses to operate in its city.

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    No Brotherly Love for Entrepreneurs

    It’s Never Sunny for Philadelphia’s Small Businesses

    At nearly every level, Philadelphia’s city government and related bureaucracies operate with a one-word vocabulary: Whatever the question is, the answer is “No.” From zoning to permitting to occupational licensing, would-be entrepreneurs hear that answer time and again.

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Washington, DC vs. Entrepreneurs

    DC’s Monumental Regulations Stifle Small Businesses

    Rather than pursuing their dreams, too many residents in Washington, D.C., move to more hospitable jurisdictions, take their businesses underground or simply give up.

  • October 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Unhappy Days for Milwaukee Entrepreneurs

    Brew City Regulations Make it Hard for Businesses to Achieve the High Life

    This report chronicles the ways in which the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin make life difficult for small businesses, which threatens both entrepreneurship and the American Dream.

  • September 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Keep Out

    How State Campaign Finance Laws Erect Barriers to Entry for Political Entrepreneurs

    Campaign-finance laws protect political insiders by making it harder for upstart citizen groups to form and bring new voices to public debate.

  • August 10, 2010    |    Scholarly Articles

    After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in the Kelo decision the use of eminent domain for private-to-private transfer of property for economic development, public outrage was followed by attempts to restrict such use of eminent domain. Opponents of restrictions predicted dire consequences for state and local economies. This study considers whether restricting the use of eminent domain…

  • August 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    The best available evidence suggests that funding political campaigns with public dollars does little to reduce special interest influence, encourage competitive races or boost political participation.

  • July 1, 2010    |    Power of One Entrepreneur Studies

    The Power of One Entrepreneur

    Kim Powers Bridges

    Funeral home and cemetery owner Kim Powers Bridges battled bureaucrats in her home state of Oklahoma where she wanted to sell caskets online. Unsuccessful in that fight, she grew a brick-and-mortar business in Tennessee and now has holdings in nine states.

  • July 1, 2010    |    Power of One Entrepreneur Studies

    High-tech Dallas entrepreneur Thane Hayhurst helps businesses across Texas keep their computers running at peak efficiency, but he was threatened to be put out of business under a law that effectively requires anyone who conducts computer repair to become a licensed private investigator.

  • July 1, 2010    |    Power of One Entrepreneur Studies

    New York City commuter van owner Hector Ricketts battled the politically powerful and heavily subsidized public buses for years. Despite overwhelming odds against him, Hector continues to grow his “dollar van” business.

  • July 1, 2010    |    Power of One Entrepreneur Studies

    Seattle-area bagel businessman Dennis Ballen’s thriving enterprise was almost driven out of business by a local law that barred him from advertising his business. He joined with IJ to fight for his First Amendment rights and, in the process, secured a precedent that has since freed other businesses to advertise.

  • July 1, 2010    |    Power of One Entrepreneur Studies

    An African hair braider from Tupelo, Miss., Melony Armstrong successfully challenged an anti-competitive licensing law in her state and has grown into an inspiring economic force who brings hope and opportunity to her community.

  • June 1, 2010    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Five Years After Kelo

    The Sweeping Backlash Against One of the Supreme Court’s Most-Despised Decisions

    On June 23, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision called Kelo v. City of New London,[1] ruled that private economic development is a public use under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that governments could take people’s homes, small businesses and other property to hand over to private developers in…

  • June 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Special Needs Vouchers Aid Children and Promote Excellence

    A Response to “Beyond Cain v. Horne”

    In the previous article, Dr. Corinne Harmon responds to my analysis of the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision in Cain v. Horne (Keller, 2009) that struck down two voucher programs for students with special needs—one for children with disabilities and the other for children in foster care. Harmon believes my constitutional analysis is in error because…

  • April 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Mowing Down the Grassroots

    How Grassroots Lobbying Disclosure Supresses Political Participation

    Grassroots lobbying—encouraging citizens to contact public officials in order to affect public policy—is quintessential representative democracy in action. However, as this report documents, sweeping lobbying laws in 36 states threaten to strangle grassroots movements in red tape and bureaucratic regulation. Such common activities as publishing an open letter, organizing a demonstration or distributing flyers can…

  • March 6, 2010    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Bulletproofing School Choice

    How to Write Sound & Constitutional Legislation to Expand Educational Opportunity

    This paper brings together the hard-won lessons of IJ’s experiences to help advocates and lawmakers craft effective school choice legislation likely to withstand a legal challenge.

  • March 6, 2010    |    Scholarly Articles

    The Florida Supreme Court vs. School Choice

    A "Uniformly" Horrid Decision

    School choice is the civil rights issue of the twenty-first century. In the Information Age, knowledge is not just power—it is destiny. As a result, no issue more fundamentally divides the “haves” and the “have-nots” in America than who gets to choose what schools their children attend and who does not. Around the country, hundreds…

  • March 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Policing for Profit: First Edition

    The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture

    Civil forfeiture laws represent one of the most serious assaults on private property rights in the nation today. Under civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize your car or other property, sell it and use the proceeds to fund agency budgets—all without so much as charging you with a crime. Unlike criminal forfeiture, where property…

  • March 1, 2010    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Little Pink House

    A True Story of Defiance and Courage

    Before there were Tea Parties, there was Kelo. Susette Kelo’s name turned into a movement. Her loss of her property was the final straw for Americans in 2005. When they heard about the Kelo decision, homeowners and small businesses across this country refused to accept the idea that a well-connected developer could turn city hall…

  • March 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Blooming Nonsense

    Experiment Reveals Louisiana's Florist Licensing Scheme as Pointless and Anti-Competitive

    For more than a decade, Monique Chauvin has owned and operated one of the most popular and recognized floral shops in all of New Orleans. Her work is regularly featured in magazines, and her store has been repeatedly voted as “Tops of the Town” in New Orleans magazine by residents of the Big Easy. Yet…

  • March 1, 2010    |    Scholarly Articles

    President Obama’s domestic policies have generated opposition among many in the general public and mobilized previously uninvolved citizens. This opposition has manifested itself in public rallies, “tea party” protests, and spirited feedback at town hall meetings. Supporters of the president’s policies have accused those participating of being part of a larger, organized conspiracy or, at…

  • January 26, 2010    |    Scholarly Articles

    Getting Beyond Guns

    Context for Coming Debate over Privileges or Immunities

    The Fourteenth Amendment represents a deliberate decision by the people of this nation to make the U.S. Constitution—not state constitutions and not state officials— the primary guardian of liberty in America. The purpose of the amendment was to secure the basic civil rights of all citizens, regardless of race, and to give federal judges both…

  • January 15, 2010    |   
  • January 15, 2010    |   

    After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in the Kelo decision the use of eminent domain for private-to-private transfer of property for economic development, public outrage was followed by attempts to restrict such use of eminent domain. Opponents of restrictions predicted dire consequences for state and local economies. This study considers whether restricting the use of…

  • January 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Empire State Eminent Domain

    Robin Hood in Reverse

    An analysis of the populations living in areas of New York City under threat of condemnation for private development finds that such eminent domain abuse disproportionately targets those who are less well-off and less educated, as well as ethnic and racial minorities—populations least able to fight back to protect their homes and businesses. In New…

  • January 1, 2010    |    Scholarly Articles

    The Right to Keep and Bear Arms in the States

    Ambiguity, False Modesty and (Maybe) Another Win for Originalism

    District of Columbia v. Heller was an easy case to get right. First, there was the text of the Second Amendment, which plainly states that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Second, there was history, much of it created by citizen‐soldiers who had just won their independence…

  • December 14, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    In 2009, the Journal of School Choice presented a special issue on school choice and the law, guest edited by Institute for Justice Director of Strategic Research Dick Carpenter. In this introduction, Carpenter explains that much of the legal battleground over the constitutionality of school choice programs has shifted to interpretations of state constitutions, and…

  • December 14, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    This commentary addresses the Arizona Supreme Court’s legal reasoning in Cain v. Horne, which struck down two voucher programs for special needs children pursuant to one of Arizona’s Blaine Amendments and explains that the court both failed to apply a straightforward textual analysis and ignored the analytical framework its prior precedents had properly established. The…

  • December 14, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Zelman v. SimmonsHarris, only state religion clauses represent a potential constitutional bar to the inclusion of religious options in properly designed school choice programs. The two most significant are compelled support clauses and Blaine Amendments. Both are frequently misinterpreted by state courts as applied to school choice when…

  • November 1, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    Attack Ballot Issue Disclosure Root and Branch

    Comment on A Cold Breeze in California: ProtectMarriage Reveals the Chilling Effect of Campaign Finance Disclosure on Ballot Measure Issue Advocacy

    For years, the lower federal and many state courts have given short shrift to the First Amendment rights of those who wish to contribute money to groups that advocate the passage or defeat of ballot measures. Twenty-four states allow legislation to be passed in this manner, and in every one, the law requires groups advocating…

  • October 1, 2009    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Building Empires, Destroying Homes

    Eminent Domain Abuse in New York

    New York is perhaps the worst state in the nation when it comes to eminent domain abuse. Government jurisdictions and agencies statewide have condemned or threatened to condemn homes and small businesses for the New York Stock Exchange, The New York Times, IKEA and Costco.

  • September 15, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    In dissenting from the US Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo decision upholding the use of eminent domain for private-to-private transfers of property, Justices O’Connor and Thomas asserted, based on the history of urban renewal, that eminent domain for private development would disproportionately hurt poor and minority communities. This study uses US census data and a sample of redevelopment…

  • September 1, 2009    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Bureaucratic Barbed Wire

    How Occupational Licensing Fences Out Texas Entrepreneurs

    Texas has a unique heritage of inspiring entrepreneurs. But the state has been restricting the economic liberty long enjoyed by its citizens.

  • June 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Locking Up Political Speech

    How Electioneering Communications Laws Stifle Free Speech and Civic Engagement

    Americans were once free to speak about politics without asking permission from the government or being forced to document their political activities for the authorities.  But under the guise of “campaign finance reform,” government regulation of political speech has metastasized, spreading far beyond the mere financing of campaigns to monitor and control everyday political speech…

  • June 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Campaign Finance Red Tape

    Strangling Free Speech & Political Debate

    Twenty-four states permit citizens to make laws directly through ballot measures. These states also regulate how citizens—if they band together—may speak out about them. In the name of “disclosure,” these regulations impose complicated registration and reporting requirements, administered by state bureaucrats, on political speech and activity by any citizen group that joins the public debate…

  • May 1, 2009    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Regulatory Field

    Burdensome Laws Strike Out Chicago Entrepreneurs

    Want to create a job in Chicago? It is not that easy. Especially in such tough economic times, people may be shocked to discover the lengths to which the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois go to discourage entrepreneurs who seek to create jobs for themselves and others. This updated report by the…

  • April 2, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    This research examines some of the assumptions inherent in discussions of campaign-finance disclosure laws as they relate to ballot issues. Specifically, it tests the theory that mandatory disclosure contributes to “better” (that is, more informed) voters by (a) examining respondents’ support for disclosure, (b) exploring the idea of the “chilling” nature of disclosure (if respondents…

  • April 1, 2009    |    Perspectives on Eminent Domain Abuse

    The former chairman and chief executive of New York state’s Urban Development Corporation reveals how Times Square succeeded for reasons that had little to do with government condemnation schemes and everything to do with public policy that allowed the market to work.

  • March 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Expanding Choice

    Tax credits and Educational access in Montana

    School choice enjoys strong support among Montana residents, and of choice options, tax credits enjoy the greatest level of popularity. Such programs grant tax credits to taxpayers who donate to nonprofit organizations that give scholarships to students. These scholarships may then be used at both public and private (including religious) schools thereby putting previously unaffordable…

  • February 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Designed to Exclude

    How Interior Design Insiders Use Government Power to Exclude Minorities & Burden Consumers

    Americans used to be free to practice interior design work and succeed or fail based solely on their skills. But, to the detriment of consumers and would-be entrepreneurs, that is changing. The American Society of Interior Designers, an industry trade group, would like state governments to define what it means to be an interior designer…

  • February 1, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    The right to free speech, including the right to speak out about who should be elected to public office, is a fundamental American right, essential to democratic debate. So, too, is the right of individuals to band together and pool their resources to make their advocacy more eff ective. Th e Founders recognized this, and…

  • February 1, 2009    |    Scholarly Articles

    In a “clean elections” system, taxpayer funded candidates must agree to limit their campaign spending. Imposing limits on campaign spending for candidates who forego taxpayer dollars and instead run traditional campaigns would be unconstitutional. Most clean elections schemes thus rely on “matching,” “rescue,” or “trigger” funds to level the playing fi eld between publicly funded…

  • February 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Expanding Choice

    Tax Credits and Educational Access in Indiana

    One of the oldest and more popular forms of school choice in the United States is educational tax credit. Like many other types of school choice, educational tax credits enable parents to send their children to the K-12 school of their choice, public or private, religious or non-religious. One type of educational tax credit, tax-credit…

  • February 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Choice and Opportunity

    The Past and Future of Choice-Based Aid in Louisiana

    On February 29, 2008, Gov. Bobby Jindal presented the Louisiana Legislature with a proposed budget allocating $10 million for a school choice initiative that would enable parents in New Orleans to send their children to the school of their choice, including private schools, with state-funded scholarships. According to Gov. Jindal, “We want to make sure…

  • January 1, 2009    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    They Want to Erase Us Out

    The Faces of Eminent Domain Abuse in Texas

    This report documents how homes, farms and small businesses across Texas have been threatened by eminent domain for private gain.

  • September 1, 2008    |    Strategic Research

    Designed to Mislead

    How Industry Insiders Mislead the Public About the Need for Interior Design Regulation

    Do people who design interiors “mislead” the public when they call themselves “interior designers” without government permission? Industry insiders advocating greater regulation say yes, but practicing interior designers who simply want to accurately describe what they do say no. This report tests each side’s claims. Using an opinion poll and a survey of leading industry…

  • August 26, 2008    |    Scholarly Articles

    This case study examines a form of occupational regulation infrequently examined in academic literature – titling laws. These laws regulate who may legally use a phrase, or title, to describe their work to the public. Focusing on the interior design industry, this article demonstrates how industry leaders use titling laws as the first step in…

  • July 1, 2008    |    Strategic Research

    Misinformation & Interior Design Regulation

    How the Interior Design Cartel's Attack on IJ's Designing Cartels Misses the Mark

    This report responds to a purported rebuttal of the Institute for Justice’s research on interior design regulations and details how its author, an advocate of increased regulation, fails to provide any evidence of the need for or benefits from limiting entry to the trade. The rebuttal is not only laced with logical and factual errors,…

  • June 1, 2008    |    Perspectives on Eminent Domain Abuse

    Simplify, Don’t Subsidize

    The Right Way to Support Private Development

    An independent developer details the outrageous bureaucratic and regulatory hurdles small developers must pass in order to build private projects.

  • June 1, 2008    |    Perspectives on Eminent Domain Abuse

    Baltimore’s Flawed Renaissance

    The Failure of Plan-Control-Subsidize Redevelopment

    Baltimore’s redevelopment strategy has long been deeply flawed and eminent domain has negatively impacted the city’s renewal.

  • May 1, 2008    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    The Dirty Dozen

    How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom

    Ever wonder how our nation changed from a country with a Constitution that limited government power to a land where the Constitution is interpreted to limit the rights of the citizenry? And what can be done to restore the founding vision for a free and prosperous nation? A new book called The Dirty Dozen: How…

  • March 1, 2008    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    California Scheming

    What Every Californian Should Know About Eminent Domain Abuse

    The report summarizes the legal history and areas of contention behind eminent domain for private development in California.

  • January 1, 2008    |    Strategic Research

    Doomsday? No Way

    Economic Trends and Post-Kelo Eminent Domain Reform

    When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld eminent domain for private development in the 2005 Kelo case, the public reacted with shock and outrage, leading to a nationwide movement to reform state laws and curb the abuse of eminent domain for private gain. By the end of 2007, 42 states had passed some type of eminent…

  • November 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Designing Cartels

    How Industry Insiders Cut Out Competition

    This report examines titling laws, little-known regulations that require people practicing certain professions to gain government permission to use a specific title, such as “interior designer,” to describe their work. Although titling laws receive little attention from the political, policy or research communities, they often represent the first step toward a better-known regulation—occupational licensing, which…

  • November 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Fatally Flawed

    A Critique of Fixing the Milwaukee Public Schools: The Limits of Parent-Driven Reform

    In October 2007, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute released a research report on public school choice and parental involvement, Fixing the Milwaukee Public School: The Limits of Parent-Driven Reform. Unfortunately, as this analysis finds, the WPRI report is fatally flawed, undermining both its claims about public school choice and any implications for private school choice…

  • August 1, 2007    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    50 State Report Card

    Tracking Eminent Domain Reform Legislation Since Kelo

    Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s now-infamous decision in Kelo v. New London, 44 states have passed new laws aimed at curbing the abuse of eminent domain for private use.

  • July 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Victimizing the Vulnerable

    The Demographics of Eminent Domain Abuse

    In Kelo v. City of New London—one of the most reviled U.S. Supreme Court decisions in history—the Court upheld the use of eminent domain by governments to take someone’s private property and give it to another for private economic development. In a major expansion of eminent domain power, the now-infamous Kelo decision marked the first…

  • June 1, 2007    |    Perspectives on Eminent Domain Abuse

    Development Without Eminent Domain

    Foundation of Freedom Inspires Urban Growth

    The former mayor of Anaheim, Calif., describes how that city’s leadership brought economic vibrancy to one neighborhood without resorting to any takings of private property. He also explores the successes and failures of other cities around the nation in economic redevelopment.

  • March 6, 2007    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Brightening the Beacon

    Removing Barriers to Entrepreneurship in San Diego

    This report presents concrete actions that can be taken by the city of San Diego, the state of California and business leaders-to open opportunities and substantially strengthen the region’s economic base.

  • March 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Disclosure Costs

    Unintended Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform

    This study examines the impact of one of the most common features of campaign finance regulations: mandatory disclosure of contributions and contributors’ personal information. While scholars have looked at the effects of other kinds of campaign finance regulations, such as contribution and spending limits and public financing of campaigns, very little work has examined the…

  • March 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Private Choice In Public Programs

    How Private Institutions Secure Social Services for Georgians

    Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship Program extends to a new group of students the same kind of educational choice already enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Georgia citizens from prekindergarten through college. Prior to the adoption of the special needs scholarship, Georgia already offered no less than 11 scholarship, grant or voucher programs related to the…

  • February 1, 2007    |    Perspectives on Eminent Domain Abuse

    Eminent Domain & African Americans

    What is the Price of the Commons?

    Eminent domain has become what the Founding Fathers sought to prevent: a tool that takes from the poor and the politically weak to give to the rich and the politically powerful.

  • January 1, 2007    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Dreher and Echeverria

    Disinformation & Errors on Eminent Domain

    In the fight to protect home and small business owners from the government’s abuse of eminent domain, it was only a matter of time until the apologists of the practice—taking property from one private individual and transferring it to another—began their counteroffensive. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous and widely despised decision in Kelo v.…

  • January 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Private Choice In Public Programs

    How Private Institutions Secure Social Services for Arizonans

    Voucher programs that give recipients the free and independent choice of an array of providers, including faith-based organizations, have a long and established history in Arizona, including six different educational voucher programs that help more than 22,000 students annually attend the public, private or religious school of their choice.

  • December 1, 2006    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    A False Sense of Security

    The Potential for Eminent Domain Abuse in Washington

    Washington state law is rife with opportunities for eminent domain abuse.

  • December 1, 2006    |    Scholarly Articles

    One Test, Two Standards

    The On-and-Off Role of "Plausibility" in Rational Basis Review

    Most of us have a drawer or a closest in our home where we put things that are not important enough to have their own place but are not quite worthless enough to throw away either. That is what the rational basis test is for the Supreme Court – junk drawer for disfavored constitutional rights…

  • October 1, 2006    |    Strategic Research

    Arizona’s tax code, like that of many state, national and international governments, includes a series of tax credits individuals and corporations may use to offset taxes owed. Arizona’s individual and corporate scholarship tax credit programs are only two of dozens of Arizona credits that encourage private spending to support public goals—including charitable donations to private,…

  • October 1, 2006    |    Strategic Research

    This report updates a 2005 analysis by Arizona’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) that looked at the fiscal impact of a proposed corporate tuition tax-credit scholarship program and reflects the program as actually passed in 2006. Updated figures indicate that the program could save the state of Arizona’s General Fund an estimated $57.2 million over…

  • June 1, 2006    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Opening the Floodgates

    Eminent Domain Abuse in a Post-Kelo World

    One year after the U.S. Supreme Court case, Kelo v. New London, local governments threatened eminent domain or condemned at least 5,783 homes, businesses, churches and other properties so that they could be transferred to another private party.

  • June 1, 2006    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Redevelopment Wrecks

    20 Failed Projects Involving Eminent Domain Abuse

    Cities and developers tend to overhype the benefits of private development projects that use eminent domain. But many of these projects are failures.

  • June 1, 2006    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    The report debunks several of the most prevalent myths about eminent domain for private gain.

  • May 1, 2006    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    This study shows how Minnesota’s government-imposed regulatory barriers block the path to the American Dream and how these barriers can be removed.

  • April 1, 2006    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Education has always been an issue of central concern for the people of North Carolina. Even before statehood, the area’s colonists made concerted efforts to secure the blessings of education for their children. In 1776, the authors of North Carolina’s first Constitution required the Legislature to provide publicly funded schools to encourage education in the…

  • December 1, 2005    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    A Dream Deferred

    Legal Barriers to African Hairbraiding Nationwide

    Hair braiding provides outstanding economic opportunities, but licensure requirements in many states have given mainstream cosmetologists a near monopoly.

  • September 1, 2005    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Kelo v. City of New London

    What it Means and the Need for Real Eminent Domain reform

    This white paper explains to both legislators and the general public why eminent domain reform is needed after the Kelo v. New London decision.

  • June 24, 2005    |   

    Activistas de todo el país han utilizado la información de este Manual de Supervivencia para proteger con éxito sus hogares y pequeños negocios del uso abusivo del dominio eminente. Este Manual de Supervivencia se elaboró partiendo de las estrategias prácticas más eficaces que existen para proteger su propiedad sin llegar a tribunales, con el fin…

  • June 1, 2005    |    Scholarly Articles

    No Such Thing

    Litigating Under the Rational Basis Test

    The original legal definition of insanity is the inability to tell right from wrong.1 So it is the first irony of the “rational” basis test that it is, according to that definition, insane. The word “basis” is likewise a misnomer, since the rational basis test is concerned not with the actual basis for challenged legislation,…

  • November 1, 2004    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Policing and Prosecuting for Profit

    Arizona’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws Violate Basic Due Process Protections

    In 2002, New Jersey’s Carol Thomas made headlines after her teenage son used her 1990 Ford Thunderbird to sell marijuana to an undercover police officer. He was arrested, pled guilty and faced his punishment. However, that did not end the case. The government also seized Thomas’ car, despite the fact that no drugs were found…

  • January 1, 2004    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Entrepreneurship in the Emerald City

    Regulations Cloud the Sparkle of Small Businesses

    This study examines the effects of regulation on entry into several occupations in Washington state and, specifically, the greater Seattle area.

  • December 1, 2003    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Burdensome Barriers

    How Excessive Regulations Impede Entrepreneurship in Arizona

    If set free from burdensome and needless regulations, Arizona entrepreneurs would find it easier to open new businesses. When government regulation are necessary, they should be highly circumscribed, easily understandable and narrowly tailored to achieve legitimate goals, such as preventing fraud.

  • August 21, 2003    |    Scholarly Articles

    The Past Should Not Shackle the Present

    The Revival of a Legacy of Religious Bigotry by Opponents of School Choice

    In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the Supreme Court ruled that school voucher programs in which parents choose which schools, including religiously affiliated schools, their children attend do not violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The consequences of Zelman were dramatic: First, the hundreds of children enrolled in Cleveland’s school choice program were spared a return to…

  • July 17, 2003    |    Scholarly Articles

    Interest group politics is a problem that has plagued American government since the nation was founded. The Constitution itself was drafted and adopted in large part because of the intractable problems that interest group politics, or the problem of “faction” as James Madison described it, posed for the states under the Articles of Confederation.2 “Complaints…

  • April 1, 2003    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Public Power, Private Gain

    A Five-Year, State-by-State Report Examining the Abuse of Eminent Domain

    In the first-ever report to document private-to-private takings, the Institute for Justice found more than 10,000 instances of eminent domain abuse in just a five-year-period.

  • March 1, 2002    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Government Theft

    The Top 10 Abuses of Eminent Domain

    The Institute for Justice brings together the 10 most egregious uses of eminent domain for private purposes from 1998 to 2001.

  • January 1, 1997    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship


    No Harbor For Entrepreneurs

    Baltimore’s small shops and entry-level entrepreneurs are a vital, year-round source of employment and opportunity for those struggling to gain a foothold on the economic ladder.

  • January 1, 1997    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Starting a small business in Boston often turns into a regulatory endurance test for would-be entrepreneurs.

  • January 1, 1997    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Entrepreneurship in Charlotte

    Strong Spirit, Serious Barriers

    Too often, the government gets in the way through anachronistic and anti-competitive regulations that are often enforced by bureaucrats who do not share Charlotte’s entrepreneurial spirit.

  • January 1, 1997    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Detroit is plagued by an intimidating bureaucracy, stifling and expensive rules, and a lack of easily obtained information. The government needs to get out of the way to allow the residents of Detroit to reach their true potential.

  • January 1, 1997    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Entrepreneurship in San Antonio

    Much to Celebrate, Much to Fight For

    Entrepreneurs in San Antonio need that Alamo spirit and perseverance to surmount obstacles placed in their way by state and local laws.

  • January 1, 1997    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    This report describes licensing and permitting laws and related regulations affecting entry-level entrepreneurship in New York City.

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