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Posts Tagged ‘institute for justice’

IJ scores 9-0 SCOTUS victory in Timbs v. Indiana

Posted by Richard on February 20, 2019

Good news from the Supreme Court today, as reported in the Institute for Justice press release:

In an historic ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning held that the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment protects Americans not just against the federal government, but against states and local authorities too. No matter which state you live in, every level of government must now abide by the federal Constitution’s guarantee that property owners will be safe from excessive fines and forfeitures. “[T]he historical and logical case for concluding that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause,” wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the Court, “is overwhelming.”

Six justices signed onto Ginsburg’s opinion. Justice Thomas wrote a concurring opinion reiterating his contention that the court should base incorporation decisions on the 14th Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause, not the Due Process Clause, quite properly calling the concept of substantive due process “oxymoronic.” Justice Gorsuch also wrote a concurring opinion stating that “the appropriate vehicle for incorporation may well be the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause, rather than, as this Court has long assumed, the Due Process Clause.” The PDF of the opinions is available here.

The Privileges or Immunities Clause was essentially made irrelevant by the Supreme Court’s 1873 ruling in the Slaughterhouse Cases, one of the worst SCOTUS rulings of all time. IJ has a good brief summary.

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License to describe

Posted by Richard on September 24, 2010

According to the Institute for Justice, in the 1950s, one in twenty members of the workforce had to have a government license to do their job; today, it's one in three. Defenders of all this government regulation and control argue that it's all about protecting consumers. That argument is specious enough when they're talking about laws to protect us from unskilled flower arrangers or hair braiders.

But the District of Columbia tops even those absurd licensing examples; it recently decided that tourists need to be protected from sightseeing guides who lack sufficient historical knowledge. So new regulations make it a crime, punishable by up to three months in jail, for tour guides to describe things without a license. Getting a license requires completing a bunch of paperwork, paying hundreds in required fees, and passing a multiple-choice test covering "an arbitrary hodgepodge of knowledge about the District."

Segs in the City provides sightseeing tours of Washington on Segways. Ironically, they don't need licenses for the Segways, or for teaching their customers how to ride them, but they do need licenses in order to describe the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. The Institute for Justice and Segs in the City's Tonia Edwards and Bill Main have filed a federal lawsuit arguing that they have a "First Amendment right to communicate for a living."

Check out this short video. And then support the Institute for Justice's fine work by donating a few bucks


[YouTube link]

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Flynn v. Holder: the fight for marrow cell liberation

Posted by Richard on October 31, 2009

The Institute for Justice is one of my favorite non-profits. This "merry band of libertarian litigators" just keeps finding wonderful ways of using the courts and the court of public opinion to fight for individual liberty, especially economic liberty. And they keep winning. IJ has been the leader in the fight against eminent domain abuse and for school choice, and it's helped countless minority entrepreneurs overcome arbitrary and discriminatory licensing laws, regulations, and other barriers to entry erected by governments.

On Wednesday, IJ and a diverse group of plaintiffs took on another stupid and unconstitutional law against capitalist acts between consenting adults — and this time there are many lives at stake. Flynn v. Holder seeks to overturn the ban on compensating marrow cell donors:

Every year, 1,000 Americans die because they cannot find a matching bone marrow donor.  Minorities are hit especially hard.  Common sense suggests that offering modest incentives to attract more bone marrow donors would be worth pursuing, but federal law makes that a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

That is why on October 28, 2009, adults with deadly blood diseases, the parents of sick children, a California nonprofit and a world-renowned medical doctor who specializes in bone marrow research joined with the Institute for Justice to sue the U.S. Attorney General to put an end to a ban on offering compensation to bone marrow donors.

The National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) of 1984 treats compensating marrow donors as though it were black-market organ sales.  Under NOTA, giving a college student a scholarship or a new homeowner a mortgage payment for donating marrow could land everyone—doctors, nurses, donors and patients—in federal prison for up to five years.

NOTA’s criminal ban violates equal protection because it arbitrarily treats renewable bone marrow like nonrenewable solid organs instead of like other renewable or inexhaustible cells—such as blood—for which compensated donation is legal.  That makes no sense because bone marrow, unlike organs such as kidneys, replenishes itself in just a few weeks after it is donated, leaving the donor whole once again.  The ban also violates substantive due process because it irrationally interferes with the right to participate in safe, accepted, lifesaving, and otherwise legal medical treatment.

Jeff Rowes, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, said, “The only thing the bone marrow provision of the National Organ Transplant Act appears to accomplish is unnecessary deaths.  A victory in this case will not only give hope to thousands facing deadly diseases, but also reaffirm bedrock principles about constitutional protection for individual liberty.”

Read the rest to learn about the people involved and their compelling stories.

It's the time of year when I make the bulk of my charitable contributions, and IJ is always near the top of my list. This suit strikes me as a terrific cause, so I'm going to donate online right now. Won't you help, too?

HT: Megan McArdle, whose column about this in the Atlantic I strongly recommend.

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