Happy Birthday, Institute for Justice Freedom Fighter

Lots of happy returns to the Institute for Justice: As of this weekend, the “merry bunch of libertarian litigants,” as George Will described the public interest law firm, exceeded their weight for 30 years .

The “National Law Firm for Freedom” Chip Mellor and Clint Bolick founded in the nation’s capital with just three other staff in 1991 is now a team of nearly 150 people with seven offices across the country, currently dealing with 85 business.

His first lawsuit – and many since – challenged a professional licensing law that protected businesses from competition by restricting the little guy’s economic freedom: Taalib-Din Uqdah had to go through an onerous DC cosmetology licensing process to operate his hair salon. No more, thanks to IJ. It also allowed the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey to compete with funeral homes selling coffins and broke Denver’s taxi monopoly.

He also rescued schools’ choice curricula, ended restrictions on free speech, forced governments to return seized funds using confiscation of civilian property, and arrested 75 prominent domain abuses and plague designations.

The firm, which does not charge its clients, has taken 10 cases to the Supreme Court and only lost one, Kelo to City of New London. But his work in this high-profile case in a prominent field has led to change in 44 states through litigation, laws and even constitutional amendments.

There are still many years of struggling for limits on government power.

Thelma J. Longworth