Institute for Justice

The Institute for Justice (IJ) sees itself as the Right Wing's preeminent public interest law firm, committed to "challenging government's control over our lives." Unlike other such groups on the Right, IJ says it does not engage in "compromise" but rather advances "a tactically and philosophically consistent, long-term strategy" that allows it to "succeed on principle" rather than "fail on politics."

Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road - Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203

Founded: 1991 by Clint Bolick and Chip Mellor
President/General Counsel: William "Chip" Mellor III
Board of Directors: David Kennedy (chairman) - President Emeritus, Earhart Foundation; Mark Babunovic - Vice President, Bank of New York; Arthur Dantchik, Partner, Susquehanna Investment Group; Robert A. Levy - Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute; Jim Lintott - Principal, Freedom Management Group LLC; Chip Mellor - President and General Counsel, Institute for Justice; Stephen Modzelewski - Managing Member, Maple Engine L.L.C.; Abigail Thernstrom - Commissioner, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute; Gerrit Wormhoudt - Attorney-at-Law, Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson and Kitch.
Finances: $7,507,175 (2005 revenue)
Publications: Liberty & Law, a bimonthly newsletter, Carry the Torch, a report on IJ, law review articles, also publishes reports on a variety of issues.
Affiliate Groups: The Institute for Justice has affiliate offices located in Arizona, Minnesota, and Washington; The IJ also created the Castle Coalition, a "nationwide grassroots property rights activism project" that "teaches home and small business owners how to protect themselves and stand up to the greedy governments and developers who seek to use eminent domain to take private property for their own gain."

Principal Issues

  • Self-described as "America's premier libertarian public interest law firm."
  • IJ provides pro bono legal advice and representation on conservative legal cases.
  • Strong supporter of "school choice" and vouchers. Includes high profile litigation in Cleveland and Milwaukee.
  • Opposes affirmative action policies, refers to them as "racial preferences" and "reverse discrimination"—in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, Clint Bolick criticized President Clinton's nominee of Lani Guinier, a former lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, calling her "Clinton's Quota Queen" because of her idea to draw more racially-conscious districts with the hope of having greater racially-proportionate representation in the legislature and the courts.
  • Supports government-subsidized, faith-based social service programs.
  • IJ has an extensive training program for young lawyers and law students and sponsors an annual Policy Activists Conference on their issues.


  • The Institute for Justice's School Choice Research Center provides pro-voucher research.
  • IJ is active in defending private property and opposing what it considers abuse of the government's power of eminent domain.
  • IJ has an annual Policy Activist Conference on Public Interest Litigation that trains conservative activists to use litigation as an advocacy tool.
  • IJ holds conservative lawyer conferences to train them to identify potential cases and create highly visible lawsuits, as well as other litigation tactics.
  • IJ's grassroots work is performed by their Human Action Network (HAN), which is made up of lawyers who have attended their conferences. The HAN is a network of hundreds of lawyers that IJ organizes to match with pro bono cases, give legal advice, and work together on their issues. These lawyers also serve to inform IJ on grassroots activities.


  • Clint Bolick, formerly of right-wing Landmark Legal Foundation, and Chip Mellor, former president of right-wing Pacific Research Institute, founded the organization. Bolick has since gone on to become the president of the Alliance for School Choice.
  • Grants and contributions from major right-wing foundations include: Olin Foundation, Bradley Foundation, Sarah Scaife Foundation, Kirby Foundation, Donner Foundation, and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation.

Updated: September 2006

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Institute for Justice