This year marks the 5th anniversary of the Mississippi Justice Institute, a state-based constitutional litigation center and the legal arm of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. When we started MJI, we wanted to make Mississippi a better place and to defend the ideals that make our country, and our state, so unique.
MCPP had already been engaged in that effort for decades; advocating in the legislature, the executive branch, and the public square. But in order to truly defend the constitutional ideals of liberty and justice for all, we knew we also had to take our fight to the courts.
The Mississippi Justice Institute helps foster freedom and prosperity in Mississippi by standing up for ordinary Mississippians whose rights have been violated by the government. We defend the personal, economic, and religious liberty of Mississippians in court and ensure that all forms of government are limited to their essential responsibilities as provided by the Constitution.
The fight for liberty never ends, and no organization can see it fully achieved. But we have made important progress. So, in honor of MJI’s 5th anniversary, here are five reasons to celebrate!
1. MJI has stood up for the right of regular Mississippians to earn an honest living in occupations as varied as eyebrow threaders, eyelash artists, weight-loss coaches, food truck operators, taxicab drivers, home health agencies, and telemedicine providers.
2. MJI has defended the right to free speech, whether for pro-life counselors to have compassionate conversations with women seeking abortions or for companies to be able to truthfully label their products.
3. MJI has won cases protecting Mississippians’ personal rights to worship and to bear arms. A Mississippi city tried to stop churches from having drive-in church services during the pandemic. After we filed suit, the city officials decided to allow the services after all. Another city banned the open carry of firearms. We filed suit, the city dropped the ban, and a federal court issued an order preventing the city from ever restricting the right to openly carry firearms again.
4. MJI has defended Mississippians’ ability to choose to send their children to charter schools. When the Southern Poverty Law Center challenged Mississippi’s charter school funding law, MJI intervened to represent parents of charter school students, and the courts upheld the funding for charter schools.
5. MJI has protected Mississippians’ property rights by leading the charge to eliminate administrative forfeiture, which allowed the government to take and keep private property without requiring involvement by the judiciary, and we forced the government to return over $100,000 worth of improperly forfeited property.
It’s no easy task to take on the government in court and win. But despite those challenges, MJI has been successful in winning over 90 percent of its cases either in court or through legislative reforms adopted in response to its lawsuits. And that’s what makes it all worthwhile – knowing that our clients can safely exercise their rights because we stood up for them when there was nowhere else to turn.
In its first five years, MJI has gained statewide and even national recognition for its work. In 2019, we received a national award for above-and-beyond service to the American conservative movement, and in 2020 we received an award for having one of the top 50 most influential leaders in the state.
We believe that Mississippians have never felt more confident that their constitutional rights will be protected and, if needed, zealously defended. With your help and support, we plan to continue fighting to make that true for many more years to come.