August 31, 2015 Print

The legal system should be a tool that serves to protect the rights of citizens, but when government officials abridge those rights, those who suffer aren’t always in a position to mount a challenge in the courts. The Institute for Justice (IJ), an Atlas Network partner based in Arlington, Va., was named one of six finalists for this year’s prestigious $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award for its strategic research program, a system by which IJ makes a rigorous data-driven case for its areas of advocacy. That research can be used to help win court cases, both setting new legal precedent and providing direct help to people who want to resist government efforts to destroy their careers or seize their property.

“The creation and growth of IJ’s strategic research program is a natural extension of the Institute for Justice’s work both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion,” said John Kramer, IJ’s vice president for communications. “IJ’s research team demonstrates through empirical analysis the benefits of freedom and the harm to individuals and society caused by runaway government power. IJ’s strategic research provides Institute attorneys with unimpeachable social science evidence that is often presented in court to bolster the case for individual opportunity and limited government. As a result, IJ’s legal advocacy has been strengthened and the power of the state has been rolled back, giving individuals a better opportunity to live as free and responsible members of society through expanded economic liberty, better protection of property rights, and greater respect for free speech.”

IJ’s strategic research has documented real-world harms of big-government policy while at the same time demonstrating the benefits of freedom to the individual, to occupations, to communities, and to the nation as a whole. In case after case and report after report, IJ’s strategic research gives IJ advocates an important tool to make the case for freedom in courts of law, in the mainstream media, in academic journals, and elsewhere.

IJ's strategic research program focuses on applying the rigorous tools of social science to its advocacy areas, including occupational licensing.

“The genesis of the program grew from an experience more than a decade ago in which IJ presented evidence of the severe threat eminent domain posed to property owners across the country,” Kramer said. “That report galvanized awareness and action to fight encroaching government and demonstrated the power of social science research in helping to create a greater understanding of the effects of runaway government. Building on that experience, our research team has marshaled the power and sophistication of social science research in demonstrating how the circumstances our clients face are not idiosyncratic, but in fact are emblematic of how individual rights are threatened or violated systematically. Our research also measures the severity of those violations, the effects on the lives of individuals, and the benefits that accrue from the protection of individual liberty. As such, our research brings to the attention of judges that their decisions affect not only our clients but all the others our clients represent.”

IJ’s strategic research is increasingly attracting attention from mainstream media, including a Pulitzer Prize finalist editorial series that drew on IJ strategic research to explore the inequities of Iowa’s occupational licensing laws and advocate reform. IJ’s strategic research has been cited by the supreme courts of the United States and Indiana, used in 12 IJ briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court and three successful certiorari petitions, featured in 16 articles published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and six policy journals, and cited in more than 150 articles by other authors in law, public policy, and scholarly journals.

“Freedom and prosperity don’t exist in a vacuum,” Kramer said. “When one individual speaks up against an abusive and unconstitutional government action, it opens the eyes of those around her who may well be experiencing the same problems but who never recognized the true source of their problem: government officials abusing their power. By standing up for their rights and having their stories documented, through in-court advocacy and through IJ’s media relations efforts, IJ clients become the human face of an issue and, in so doing, demonstrate to the courts that such legal battles aren’t about dry esoteric issues; they are about real-world individuals and the constitutional rights they are supposed to enjoy as an American birthright.”

The proof that IJ’s strategic research program provides concrete, effective results can be found in the fact that in the nine years since IJ stared the strategic research program, it has achieved 67 victories, and 25 of those in cases that had a substantial involvement from the research team. Seven of those cases were won in the last two years. IJ wins more than 70 percent of its cases, even though it only sues the government — the entity with the deepest of deep pockets to fund its defense. Although each of these cases is an uphill battle, IJ is able to win the vast majority of them with a sophisticated combination of cutting-edge litigation, strategic research, media relations, and activism, helping free those who would otherwise remain under the thumb of big government.

“The Institute for Justice is a very deserving finalist for the Templeton Freedom Award,” said Atlas Network CEO Brad Lips. “The quality of its pubic interest litigation work makes it easy to overlook the influence of its far-sighted strategic research program, without which topics like civil asset forfeiture would not be in the headlines as they are today.”

Awarded since 2004, the Templeton Freedom Award is named for the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton. The award annually honors his legacy by identifying and recognizing the most exceptional and innovative contributions to the understanding of free enterprise, and the public policies that encourage prosperity, innovation, and human fulfillment via free competition. The award is generously supported by Templeton Religion Trust and will be presented during Atlas Network’s Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner. The winning organization will receive a $100,000 prize and the runners-up will receive $5,000.

The 2015 Templeton Freedom Award finalists are:

What: The Institute for Justice’s strategic research program named one of six finalists for Atlas Network’s prestigious $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award

When: Nov. 12, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner closing ceremony — Capitale, 130 Bowery, NYC (Bowery and Grand St.)

Press Contact: or (202) 449-8441

About The Institute for Justice

Through strategic litigation, training, communication, activism and research, the Institute for Justice 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 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.


About Atlas Network

Washington-based, Atlas Network is a nonprofit organization which strengthens the worldwide freedom movement by connecting 470 independent partners in 96 countries that share the vision of a free, prosperous, and peaceful world where limited governments defend the rule of law, private property, and free markets.