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July 26, 2015
Wall Street Journal
Tar Heel School Voucher Victory
School vouchers may be the most effective anti-poverty program around, yet they’re fought tooth and hammer by the teachers unions...   More

July 26, 2015
Star-Ledger
Uber and the sharing economy: Death cab for the protectionists and monopolists
Who will shed a tear for Gene Friedman?...   More

July 24, 2015
Associated Press
North Carolina Court Upholds Taxpayer-Funded Grants For Private Schools
A divided state Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of a Republican-backed program that spends taxpayer money on tuition for...   More

July 23, 2015
The Economist
A grave business
Death is tricky, but burials are fairly straightforward...   More

July 22, 2015
Catholic News Service
Archdiocese of Newark sues New Jersey over headstone law
A public interest law firm has filed a federal case on behalf of the archdiocese of Newark challenging...   More

July 22, 2015
Newsy
Tradition And Law At Odds Over Where You Lay Your Headstone
Earlier this year, New Jersey passed a law prohibiting the Archdiocese of Newark from selling its own headstones...   More

July 21, 2015
Reuters
Archdiocese of Newark suing New Jersey over law that prevents headstone sales
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark has sued the state of New Jersey, arguing that a new law preventing...   More

July 21, 2015
Toledo Blade
Bowling Green repeals law limiting taxicabs
A little more than a month after taxicab entrepreneur John Rinaldi filed a lawsuit against Bowling Green...   More

July 20, 2015
New York Times
Archdiocese Disputes Ban on It Selling Headstones
The Archdiocese of Newark filed a lawsuit on Monday challenging the constitutionality of...   More

July 20, 2015
Reason
Turf War
For 17 years, Tom Carroll and his wife Hermine Ricketts tended an organic garden in the front yard of their home in...   More

Activist News - Get Active with IJ's Human Action Network

The Forfeiture Machine Turns Cops into Robbers

The most terrifying place in Philadelphia is Courtroom 478 in City Hall. This is where property owners enter Philadelphia’s Civil Forfeiture Machine. Civil forfeiture is a little-known legal device that allows law enforcement officials to take your property, sell it and pocket the proceeds—even if you have done nothing wrong.

Philadelphia’s automated, machine-like forfeiture scheme is unprecedented in size. From 2002 to 2012, Philadelphia took in over $64 million in forfeiture funds—or almost $6 million per year. In 2011 alone, the city’s prosecutors filed 6,560 forfeiture petitions to take cash, cars, homes and other property. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office used over $25 million of that $64 million to pay salaries, including the salaries of the very prosecutors who brought the forfeiture actions. This is almost twice as much as what all other Pennsylvania counties spent on salaries combined.

This is how the city’s forfeiture machine works: Property owners who have their cash, cars or homes seized must go to Courtroom 478. But Courtroom 478 isn’t a courtroom at all: there is no judge or jury, just a scheduler and the prosecutors who run the show. Owners who ask for a lawyer are frequently told their case isn’t complicated and a lawyer isn’t necessary, but are then given a stack of complicated legal documents to fill out under oath. Time and time again, property owners must return to Courtroom 478—up to ten or more times in some cases. If they miss a single appearance, they can lose their property forever.

Philadelphia’s forfeiture machine stacks the deck against property owners and leads city officials to police for profit instead of justice. To end these unconscionable and unconstitutional practices, the Institute for Justice and a group of property owners have brought a major, class-action lawsuit in federal court. The lawsuit will take the profit incentive out of civil forfeiture and protect innocent people who are caught in an upside-down legal process that treats them like cash machines while violating their constitutional rights.

Freedom Flix

The Institute for Justice is always looking for new ways to promote the message of freedom. To that end, IJ produced the following videos in-house to tell the stories of our clients and their fight for individual liberty.

None of this — the cases or these videos — would be possible without the continued generosity of our donors. We hope you enjoy them and share them with those who need a little inspiration.

Subscribe to our videos via iTunes or YouTube.


 Church Cemetery Banned from Selling Headstones (1:48)
Challenging the constitutionality of an outrageous new law that makes it a crime to sell monuments.
 Censored in Florida: Creamery Owner Sues to End Labeling Censorship (2:43)
Mary Lou just wants to tell the truth, but government orders her to mislead her own customers.
 The Fight for Braiding Freedom (5:35)
Since the advent of hair braiding more than 5,000 years ago, it has been a simple and safe practice that government has no business regulating. African-style hair braiding uses no dyes or chemicals, and it is safe for braiders to perform.
 Food Trucks and Carts Are Just as Clean as Restaurants (1:07)
Research compares food-safety inspection scores of food trucks, food carts and restaurants in seven major American cities—and finds that street eats are safe eats. www.ij.org/vending
 Licensed Dentist Attacked for Charging Too Little (2:23)
When is it illegal for a licensed dentist in Arkansas to clean teeth? When he also happens to be a licensed orthodontist.

More videos: Economic Liberty, Private Property, School Choice, First Amendment, All Videos

Institute for Justice The National Law Firm for Liberty

“A merry band of libertarian litigators.”
—Columnist George F. Will

Institute Profile: Who We Are

IJ's Merry Band of Litigators

Founded in 1991, the Institute for Justice is what a civil liberties law firm should be. As the national law firm for liberty, we stick to a clear mission engaging in cutting-edge litigation and advocacy both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion on behalf of individuals whose most basic rights are denied by the government.  Our four pillars of litigation are private property, economic liberty, free speech and school choice. Simply put, we seek a rule of law under which individuals can control their destinies as free and responsible members of society.

The Institute for Justice is a 501(c)(3) organization; donations are tax-deductible.


 

More About IJ:

Wall Street Journal Weekend Interview with Chip Mellor

The Quest For Justice - the Inaugural Speech Launching the Institute for Justice

The IJ Way - While so many factors contribute to our success—the talents of the people involved, the commitment of our donors, and the pursuit of a strategic litigation plan—nothing is more central to our success than the culture of IJ, which determines the way we do business.

Litigating for Liberty: The Institute for Justice's Chip Mellor on campaign-finance reform, eminent-domain abuse, and licensing laws gone wild - an Interview with Chip Mellor by Reason Magazine's Nick Gillespie.

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Our Record of Success

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- 191 cases litigated in four core mission areas:  economic liberty, property rights, political and commercial speech, and school choice

5 U.S. Supreme Court cases since 2002 (four victories)

70 percent victory rate (through litigation and legislation)

- In FY14 alone, IJ litigated 54 cases, including 15 case victories and 22 new cases

47 states protected property rights from eminent domain through legislative reform or state supreme court rulings after sole U.S. Supreme Court loss in Kelo v. City of New London 

Over 16,000 homes and businesses saved since Kelo

First favorable U.S. appeals court ruling for economic liberty since the New Deal

More than 300,000 children nationwide benefiting from school choice

- 40 national awards for our media relations work, publications, and production

Strategic research cited by U.S. Supreme Court and Indiana Supreme Court; used in 12 IJ briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court, three successful cert. petitions, and 15 articles published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals; also cited in 145 articles by other authors in law, public policy, and scholarly journals

Only law school clinic in the nation focusing exclusively on assisting low-income entrepreneurs start exclusively private-sector businesses

READ MORE IJ AT A GLANCE

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We change the world, and have fun doing it!

 

 IJ Overview Video from the Giving Library

 

Watch more videos from each of our four pillars of litigation: Economic LibertyPrivate PropertySchool ChoiceFirst Amendment. View All Videos