From time to time I make modest financial contributions to organizations and candidates I believe in. One of those organizations I support is the Institute for Justice. They litigate for the cause of liberty in four primary areas: economic liberty, property rights, political and commercial speech, and school choice.
Cases they have taken on range from defending homeschoolers to hair braiders. I know of two occasions were they have been active in Nashville defending the little guy against local government tyranny.
One, is the case of Joy Ford from 2008. Ms Ford who had a long career in the music business owned a small piece of land on music row. The neat but simple brick building housing County International Records was located in the middle of a redevelopment district. MDHA sought to acquire the Ford’s property on behalf of the developer who planed a $70 million office tower on the adjacent property. Ms Ford did not want to sell, so the city closed an alley behind her property so tour buses could not access her property. She still did not break, so MDHA deemed her property “blighted” and tried to take the property by eminent domain condemnation. The Tennessean's Gail Kerr brought attention to this case as well as radio personality Phil Valentine. The Institute for Justice stepped in and represented Joy Ford in Court and slowed the condemnation process. MDHA then offered a land swap. Ms Ford got to keep her building and swapped part of her parking lot for parking on the other side of the building. Had it not been for IJ, MDHA would have taken her land by eminent domain. For more on this story, follow this link.
The other Nashville case in which IJ was involved was that of Metro Livery. In 2009, a new service which has since come to be called "Black Cars" made there appearance in Nashville. This new type service was introduced to our city by a Pakistani immigrant named Ali Bokhari. For as little as $25 his company offered luxury rides from the Air Port to downtown. These plain large vehicles such as Crown Ford Victoria's or other large luxury cars were much nicer than a taxi but not ostentatious like a stretch limousine and they were driven by driver wearing suits. The established limo companies made an all out effort to drive him out of business. The city's Transportation Licensing Commission had inspectors exercising police power illegally. The inspectors for the Metro Transposition Incensing Commission harassed drivers for Metro livery. Eventually the police chief intervened and forced the MTLC to cease illegally acting as law enforcement agents.
In June 2010, the council passed a limousine price-fixing bill that protected the big limo companies from competition. The ordinance imposed a minimum $45 fee for limo services, it prohibited the use of leased vehicles, and imposed vehicle age and mileage restrictions. And while customers of Metro Livery called for a Black Car by calling the driver's on his cell phone, this new ordinance required vehicles be dispatched from a central location. They also prohibited drivers from serving more than one car an hour and mandated a minimum of a 15 wait for a vehicle. Metro Livery fought back. This fight went on and on for years. Institute for Justice joined in the case and litigated on behalf of Metro Livery and other Black Car drivers who had started providing the same service. Eventually IJ lost in court, but Metro failed in an effort to get the case thrown out and it went to trail.
The delay in allowing Metro to force Metro Livery out of business eventually resulted in publicity for Metro Livery and victory. The case was picked up nationally by John Stossell and George Will and others and as more people began using the service, the city realized it would be difficult to kill this service and then with the appearance of services like Uber and Lyft making a Nashville appearance, the council rewrote the law that they had passed which was designed to force Metro Livery out of business. Most likely if not for IJ's intervention, Metro would have succeeded in driving this company out of business and keeping Uber and Lyft from entering the Nashville market. I have blogged about this case numerous time, if interested in learning more, follow this link.
These are two examples were the Institute for Justice fought for the little guy against the city of Nashville and justice was served. They are doing this all across the country when cities want to ban alternative transportation or food trucks or hair braiding or unjustly take property by eminent domain or only want caskets to be permitted to be sold by funeral homes or restrict home schooling and various other infringements on economic liberty and free speech.
If you are in the giving mood this Christmas season, I know of no organization more deserving of support than the Institute for Justice. You can donate at this secure link.
Below is IJ' solicitation to me:
Dear Mr. Williams.
As 2014 draws to a close, I hope you will consider renewing your support of the Institute for Justice. With 51 active cases in 26 different states and the District of Columbia, IJ is The National Law Firm for Liberty. Please renew your support now to help us make even greater gains for liberty in 2015.
Generous donors like you enable IJ to fight for everyday heroes who choose to stand up to government bullies and oppression rather than take the easy way out. Here are just a few of the victories your past support has made possible this year:
- Tens of thousands of mom-and-pop tax preparers can continue to run their small businesses without fear of unconstitutional licensing requirements from the IRS.
- More than 1,800 children in North Carolina are able to attend the school that best meets their needs, despite multiple attempts of the teachers’ unions to revoke their scholarships.
- People in Arizona can now speak freely about important political issues without first having to register with the government.
- Transportation entrepreneurs in Milwaukee are now free to start their own taxi companies and pursue their American Dream.The stakes for liberty are high and impact the lives of all Americans. In the coming year, we must, and will, bring our best efforts to bear as we defend the Constitution. If your check is already in the mail, please pardon the reminder. If not, then please visit www.ij.org/donate to renew your support today.
Thank you for making our work possible. I look forward to hearing from you soon.