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Liberty & Law: IJ's Bimonthly Newsletter (June 2010)

Liberty & Law: IJ's Bimonthly Newsletter (June 2010)

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Liberty & Law is published bimonthly by the Institute for Justice, which, through strategic litigation, training, communication, activism and research, advances a rule of law under which individuals can control their destinies as free and responsible members of society. IJ litigates to secure economic liberty, school choice, private property rights, freedom of speech and other vital individual liberties, and to restore constitutional limits on the power of government. In addition, IJ trains law students, lawyers and policy activists in the tactics of public interest litigation.

Through these activities, IJ challenges the ideology of the welfare state and illustrates and extends the benefits of freedom to those whose full enjoyment of liberty is denied by government

Editor: John E. Kramer
Layout & Design: Don Wilson
Liberty & Law is published bimonthly by the Institute for Justice, which, through strategic litigation, training, communication, activism and research, advances a rule of law under which individuals can control their destinies as free and responsible members of society. IJ litigates to secure economic liberty, school choice, private property rights, freedom of speech and other vital individual liberties, and to restore constitutional limits on the power of government. In addition, IJ trains law students, lawyers and policy activists in the tactics of public interest litigation.

Through these activities, IJ challenges the ideology of the welfare state and illustrates and extends the benefits of freedom to those whose full enjoyment of liberty is denied by government

Editor: John E. Kramer
Layout & Design: Don Wilson

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: Institute for Justice on Feb 03, 2011
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Volume 19 Issue 3
IJ FightsForfeiture Abuse
2
Fee Speech Victy F Viginia Yga Teaches
3
IJ ExpandsSocial Media Presence
9
 Victory forSpeechNow.org 
10
June 2010
Published Bimonthly by theInstitute for Justice visit us online:
www.ij.org 
Inside This Issue
By Bill Maurer
Asfederal,stateandlocalgovernmentscontinuetheirrelentlessassaultonfreespeechintheguiseofcampaignfinance“reforms,”theInstituteforJusticeisfightingbacktoprotectourrights.Ourmostrecentlawsuit,inthestateofWashington,takesonalawthatstrikesattheheartofordinaryAmericans’righttofreespeech.Attownhallmeetings,rallies,talkradio,“meetups”andprotests,Americansareconstantlyurgingoneanothertogetinvolvedandinfluencepublicpol-icy.Ournation’shistoryisrepletewithpeopletryingtoconvinceoneanother—sometimesanonymously—toeffectpoliticalchange.Unfortunately,manybelievethatthiskindofdemocracyinactionmustberegulatedandmonitoredbythestate.Thirty-sixstatesregulatewhatcampaignfinancereformerscall“grassrootslobbying,”which,inreality,isnotlobbyingatallbecauseitdoesnotinvolvepeoplespeakingdirectlywithgovernmentofficials.Rather,“grassrootslobbying”describesordinaryciti-zensspeakingtoeachotheraboutpoliticalchange.InWashingtonstate,ifagrassrootsgroupspendsmorethan$500inonemonth,or$1,000inthreemonths,“presentingaprogramaddressedtothepublic,asubstantialportionofwhichisintended,designed,orcalculatedprimarilytoinfluence”statepolicy,ithastoregisterwiththegovernmentandreportthenames,addressesandoccupationsofthepersonsleadingtheeffort.Italsohastoreportthenameandaddressofanyoneorganizingorassisting
Grassrts Lbbing
continued on
page 6
IJ Takes On Washington State’s EffortTo Regulate Grassroots Activism
 
2
 
2
By Scott Bullock
Texashassomeoftheworstcivilfor-feiturelawsandpracticesinthenation,butaconstitutionalchallengetheInstitutefor JusticefiledinAprilintendstochangethat.ATexaspropertyownerisfightingbackbychallengingthegovernment’sforfeitureofhisChevytruck.Insodoing,heaimstoprotectthepropertyrightsofallTexans.Aswedocumentedinourrecentlyreleasedreport,
PolicingforProfit 
(spotlightedinourlastnewsletter),civilforfeitureisalegalfictionthatpermitslawenforcementtochargepropertywithacrime.Unlike
criminal 
forfei-ture—wherepropertyistakenawayonlyafteritsownerhasbeenfoundguiltyinacourtoflaw—with
civil 
forfeiture,propertyownersneednotbeconvictedofanycrimetolosetheirhomes,land,trucks,boatsorcash.Makingmattersworse,lawenforcementagenciesinTexasandmanyotherstatesgettokeepthecashandotherassetsthattheyseize,givingthemadirectfinancialincentivetoabusethispowerandtherightsofprop-ertyowners.InTexas,forfeiturefundscanevenpaypolicesalaries.Thisestablishesaperverseincentivestructureunderwhichthemorepropertypoliceseize,thenicertheirfacilities,equipmentandautomobiles—andthebiggertheirpersonalpaychecks.SmallbusinessmanZaherEl-Ali,whogoesbyAli,haslivedinHoustonformorethan30years.Inmanyways,hisisaclas-sicAmericanimmigrantsuccessstory.AlicametoAmericafromhisnativeJordanwithonly$500inhispocket,knowingnoone.Hewenttocollege,startedafamilyandeventu-allystartedhisownsmallbusiness,restoringhomesandcarsandsellingthemmostlytolow-incomeresidentsinEastHouston,whereAlilives.In2004,Alisolda2004ChevroletSilveradotrucktoamanwhopaidhim$500downandagreedtopaytherestoncredit.Aswithallcarsboughtoncredit,Aliheldthetitletothecaruntilhewaspaidinfullandalsoregisteredthecarinhisname.InJuly2009,thebuyerdrovetheSilveradowhiledrunkandwasarrestedforDWI.BecausethiswashisthirdDWIarrest,hewasimpris-oned,pledguiltyandwassentencedtosix yearsinprison.Afterthemansarrest,thepoliceseizedtheSilveradoforcivilforfeiture.IthasbeensittingintheHarrisCountyimpoundloteversince.InJulyandAugust2009,Aliwrotetothesheriffandthedistrictattorney,tellingthemofhisinterestinthetruckandattach-ingcopiesofthetitleandregistrationnamingAliastheownerandaskingforitsreturn,becausethejailedbuyerhadstoppedmak-ingpayments.Thegovernmentrespondedbyfilingacivilforfeitureactionagainstthetruck:
StateofTexasv.One2004ChevroletSilverado 
.AlihasjoinedwiththeInstituteforJusticeinbringingcounterclaimsinthe
ChevroletSilverado 
casetochallengeTexas’civilforfei-turestatuteasaviolationofhisconstitutionalrights.IJ’slawsuitagainstTexasistheinaugu-rationofournationalefforttoprotectprivatepropertyrightsfromabusiveforfeiturelaws.Wearechallengingtheperversefinancialincentiveschemethatunderliescivilforfeitureinthestate.Wearealsochallengingtheprovi-sionofthelawthatplacestheburdenonown-erstoprovetheirinnocence,ratherthanonthestatetoprovetheirguilt.Ifsuccessful,ourlegalchallengewillhelprebalanceTexas’lawenforcementpriorities,takethefinancialincen-tivesoutofcivilforfeitureandprotectinnocentpropertyownerscaughtupinanupside-downlegalprocessthatviolatesfundamentalcon-stitutionalstandardsofdueprocess.
u
Sctt Bullck
is anIJ senior attorney.
“Law enforcement agencies in Texas and many other states get to keep the cashand other assets that they seize, giving them a direct financial incentive to abuse this power and the rights of property owners.”
IJ’s Texas-sized Challenge Aims t End Frfeiture Abuse
IJ client
Zaher El-Ali
is fighting Texas’ abuse of civil forfeiture laws. The state seized his truck and seeksto make him forfeit it even though he committed no crime.
 
3
June 2010
 
By Robert Frommer
InDecember2009,theInstituteforJusticejoinedforceswiththreeVirginiayogainstructorsinanefforttoprotectboththeirfreedomofspeechandtheirrighttoearnanhonestliving.Throughlitigationandadvocacyinthecourtofpublicopinion,IJandourclientsprevailedinMarch2010whenVirginiaGov.BobMcDonnellsignedalawremovingthestate’sunconstitu-tionalburdensonourclients’yogabusinesses.JuliaKalish,SuzanneLeitner-WiseandBevBrownareyogadevoteeswhoteachcoursestothosewhowanttosomedaybecomeinstructorsthemselves.Virginialaw,however,requiredanyonewhooffered“vocational”training—e.g.,anytrainingthatteachesausefulskill—tofirstgetagovernment-issuedlicense.TheVirginiaStateCouncilofHigherEducationinterpretedthelawtoapplytoourclients’programsanddemandedthattheyeitherregisterorshutdown.Registrationwasnotaseasyasmerelyfillingoutasimpleform.Newapplicantshadtopay$2,500toapplyandpaybetween$500and$2,500inannualfees.Applyingalsomeantspendingdozensofhoursfillingoutfinancialrecordsandotheradministrativedocuments.AndteachershadtogetVirginiabureaucratstosaythattheircurriculumwasofsuf-ficient“quality,”eventhoughVirginiabureaucratslikelyknownothingaboutyoga.Theserequirementswerebackedupbysubstantialcivilandcriminalpenalties.Ifourclientshadtheaudacitytocommitanyunauthorizedteaching,Virginiacouldhaveleviedthousandsofdollarsinfinesandputtheminjailforuptooneyear.Theseobstacleswouldbedauntingtoanyone.Butyoga-instructorprogramsrarelyteachmorethanafewstudentseachyear;imposingtheseregulationsonourclientswouldhaveforcedthemoutofbusiness.Infact,numerousschoolsinVirginiaandotherstateshaveclosedratherthanfacetheseheadaches.Inadditiontodestroyingourclients’businesses,theseregulationswouldhavetrampledontheirfreespeechrights.TheFirstAmendmentprotectstherighttospeakandtolistentospeakersofourchoice.Virginiawouldnevermakeawriteraskforpermissionbeforehewroteayogabook.NorwoulditforceaproducertogetitsapprovalbeforemakingayogaDVD.Likewise,Virginiahadnorighttodemandthatourclientsaskforpermissionbeforespeakingwiththeirstudents.IJ’ssimpleandpowerfulmessagingbroughtclarityandpublicpressureatacriticaltime.Soonafterwefiledsuit,leg-islatorsfromtheVirginiaGeneralAssemblyintroducedabilltoexemptyogainstructorprogramsfromthelaw’srequirements,abillthatisnowlawandwhichnarrowsVirginia’svocationalschoollawtoprotectourclients’rightstospeakfreely.Allofourclientsarenowplanningtheirnextcourses,buttheInstitute’scampaignforeconomiclibertycontinues.Freedomofspeechshouldbetherule,nottheexception,andtoomanyVirginiaschoolsstillmustseekthegovernment’spermissionbeforespeaking.IJwillcontinueitsfighttoensurethateveryoneinVirginiaandbeyondisfreetospeakandtocreatetheirownsuccessfreefromunnecessarygovernmentinterference.
u
Rbert Frmmer
is an IJ staff attorney.IJ client
Julia Kalish
is now free to teach clients how to teach yoga, thanks to the Institute for Justice’s victory on her behalf inthe court of public opinion.
June 2010
3
New Law Exempts Schls frm Regulatin
 VICToRy fr Virginia yga Instructrs

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