The Institute for Justice (IfJ or just IJ) is an American non-profit law organization devoted to limiting the power of American governments (federal, state, and local) to control the lives of people and businesses. They do this by suing governments on behalf of people, either because they have been victimized by the government personally or because heavy-handed and pointless government regulation is crushing their small businesses. You can read their mission statement here. I don’t donate to many causes but I do give money to IJ for a few reasons:
- They tackle big issues to ensure that the constitutional rights of individuals are respected.
- They are very effective and influential, with an outstanding history of success.
- They are the rare organization that attracts support from both the right and the left.
- Their economic liberty initiative helps ensure the entrepreneurial drive remains alive in America.
They’re not overtly political but their causes place them squarely in the libertarian camp. Libertarians are sometimes described as “classic” or “classical” liberals, but in today’s world most would consider them distinctly right of center. Their support for free speech alone makes them an anathema to the woke new left.
Here is a quick summary of their five main litigation areas:
- Economic Liberty. They do battle against a specific manifestation of the nanny state, the state’s overwhelming urge to regulate (and thus suppress) the efforts of entrepreneurs to start up and maintain small business. This also includes supporting the right of individuals to speak and write about certain subjects. Many states try to regulate even first-amendment protected speech. Take a look at some of their cases to get an idea.
- Educational Choice. Parents should have a right to choose the kind of education their children receive without the government’s heavy hand working against them.
- Private Property. Governments at all levels have an insatiable thirst for grabbing up private property on the merest whim. Or, sometimes due to carelessness, stupidity, or outright recklessness they destroy private property and refuse to compensate the owners despite the fifth amendment’s promise that “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
- First Amendment. The bedrock of American democracy, freedom of speech and religion seems to be under constant attack by the nanny state mentality of regulating everything.
- Government Accountability. Sometimes the government or its agents do terrible things to people, George Floyd being only the most recent infamous example. The action may be purely accidental or, as in the case of Floyd, quite intentional. Either way, a fair and effective justice system must hold the government accountable. In the case of intentional constitutional violations (Floyd again) it must hold the individual agents accountable. But it often doesn’t. A relatively innocent federal law to protect government employees who act in good faith created a defense known as qualified immunity. Then, in a series of cases, an activist U.S Supreme Court took this sensible law and obscenely expanded it into the current doctrine of qualified immunity. The result: qualified immunity now means unqualified impunity.
As I noted above, this a non-profit organization that depends on donations. Take a look at their website and, if you support their effort, please consider becoming a donor. Even if you don’t make a donation, consider following their efforts and supporting them in non-monetary ways, such as on social media.