Scott G. Bullock


President and General Counsel

Scott Bullock joined the Institute for Justice at its founding in 1991. In January 2016, he became its second President and General Counsel. IJ pursues strategic public interest litigation that combines courtroom advocacy with media relations, activism, and strategic research to secure constitutional protection for individual rights.

Before becoming president, Bullock served as a senior attorney and litigated a wide variety of constitutional challenges in federal and state courts, including some of IJ’s most iconic cases.

He was involved in many cases challenging the use of eminent domain for private development. He argued the historic Kelo v. City of New London, one of the most controversial and widely discussed U.S. Supreme Court decisions in decades.  Following Kelo, Bullock worked extensively on grassroots and legislative campaigns with homeowners, small business owners, and activists to foment the nationwide backlash against eminent domain abuse.

Bullock was also co-lead counsel in the first state supreme court victory after Kelo, where the Supreme Court of Ohio unanimously struck down the use of eminent domain for private development. Some of his other successes in this area include spearheading the litigation that saved a beachfront neighborhood in Long Branch, New Jersey, a small record label in Nashville, Tennessee and the homes of the Archie family in Canton, Mississippi.

Bullock was lead attorney in IJ’s representation of the monks of St. Joseph Abbey in their challenge to a Louisiana law that prevented them from selling hand-made wooden caskets. That case led to a landmark decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals protecting economic liberty.

He also founded and directed the Institute’s initiative against civil forfeiture, a national effort to challenge the ability of governments to take property from owners without a criminal conviction. He led the litigation team that successfully defended a family-owned motel from a forfeiture attempt by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston. He is co-author of Policing for Profit, a comprehensive report published in 2010 documenting forfeiture abuse at all levels of government.

Among his work on other constitutional issues, Bullock established an early precedent extending free speech guarantees to Internet and software publishers in the Institute’s First Amendment challenge to a federal agency’s campaign against investment newsletters, computer software and websites. He also led successful lawsuits against rental inspection laws and efforts to open up taxi markets to more competition.

Bullock’s articles and views on constitutional litigation have appeared in a wide variety of media. He has published articles in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and he has appeared on 60 Minutes, ABC Nightly News, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and National Public Radio, among many other publications and broadcasts.

His volunteer activities have included serving on the boards of a Washington, D.C.-based music and cultural center dedicated to the promotion of jazz and a national forfeiture reform organization.

Bullock was born in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and grew up in Jeannette and Greensburg, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh. He received his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh and his B.A. in economics and philosophy from Grove City College.

Past Cases

In the News

News Clips

Research and Reports

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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.

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