Liberty Justice Center

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The Liberty Justice Center(LJC), is a non-profit conservative "public-interest litigation center that fights to protect economic liberty, private property rights, free speech, and other fundamental rights in Illinois and beyond," according to its website. Founded in 2012,[1] "The Liberty Justice Center [is] a public interest law firm started by and in close relations with the Illinois Policy Institute."[2]. The two organizations share an office.[3][4] The Chairman of LJC is John Tillman.[5] The Liberty Justice Center is an associate member of the State Policy Network, a web of state pressure groups that denote themselves as "think tanks" and drive a right-wing agenda in statehouses nationwide.

News and Controversies

Involvment in Janus v. AFSCME

Alongside the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, LJC "represent[s] Mark Janus" in Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court Case argued before the Supreme Court on February 26, 2018. Mark Janus is a child support worker for the State of Illinois who does not want to pay the agency fees (also known as fair share fees) required to compensate the union representing Illinois state workers for the cost of his representation. This case is part and parcel of a coordinated legislative and legal strategy to dismantle unions being advanced in a systematic manner by an interlocking group of right-wing funders and state-based groups.

A report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) on those who side with the plaintiff in Janus v. Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 found "Janus, and the two fair share cases that preceded it, did not grow from an organic, grassroots challenge to union representation. Rather, the fair share cases are being financed by a small group of foundations with ties to the largest and most powerful corporate lobbies. These organizations and the policymakers they support have succeeded in advancing a policy agenda that weakens the bargaining power of workers. In Janus, these interests have focused their attack on public-sector workers—the workforce with the highest union density." [4]

LJC represented Mark Janus pro bono. EPI investigated who funds LJC and the associated IPI, "a review of LJC and IPI’s 990s provides a limited view of their financial profile, but it is clear that they survive off of the same core group of corporate-backed organizations that contribute to many political and legal fights against unions. Donors Trust, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation, Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking, and the Charles Koch Institute have supported the Illinois Policy Institute and Liberty Justice Center." [4]

LJC is a part of the "a small group of people working for deep-pocketed corporate interests" which CMD's Mary Bottari outlined in her "Behind Janus: Documents Reveal Decade-Long Plot to Kill Public-Sector Unions" piece for In These Times. She writes, "those same people cheer “defunding” and “bankrupting” unions to deal a “mortal blow” to progressive politics in America." [6]

Amusement Tax Litigation

In 2015, LJC represented litigants arguing against the application of an "amusement tax" in Chicago being applied to online services, such as Netflix. According to the Wall Street Journal, LJC argued in the case that the tax was "a violation of the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA); ... the United States Commerce Clause ... the uniformity clause of the Illinois Constitution; and an extraterritorial application of Defendants’ taxing power." [7] In May of 2018, the Circuit Court of Cook County ruled in favor of the city, disagreeing with LJC and their litigants. [8] Jefferey Schwab, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, told Forbes, “we plan to appeal this decision because it has far broader implications than this single attempt to tax online entertainment" [7]

Ties to State Policy Network

According to the State Policy Network, "the Liberty Justice Center [is] the litigation partner of the State Policy Network affiliate Illinois Policy Institute." [9]

Amicus briefs in the Janus case were filed by the following SPN associates and affiliates:

Ties to the Koch Brothers

LJC is a partner organization of the Charles Koch Institute internship program.[10]

Koch Wiki

The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.

Ties to the Bradley Foundation

The Liberty Justice Center is a member of the Goldwater Institute's litigation alliance, a project started in 2014. The Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation provided $350,000 in seed money for litigator Clint Bolick's “initiative to create a state litigation alliance” (Report: Goldwater Institute, 2016). The Bradley Price recipient Bolick was vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute at the time. Today Bolick is on the Arizona Supreme Court. The state litigation alliance, according to Bradley internal documents, “helps research and identify those states that have the greatest potential for advancing state-constitutional law – then trains and, if asked, mentors attorneys who can either lead or staff existing or newly-created legal centers elsewhere, with an intensive ‘litigation boot camp’ for interested conscripts."

In all, Bradley has contributed $600,000 to the state litigation alliance because it “retains great potential to continue maximizing the benefit of Bradley’s much other recent strategic grantmaking to improve conservative infrastructures” (Goldwater Institute, Grant History Record, 11/10/14).[11]

Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at ExposedbyCMD.org.

Funding

LPC receives grants form IPI. According to EPI, "Donors Trust, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation, Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking, and the Charles Koch Institute have supported the Illinois Policy Institute and Liberty Justice Center." [4]

Core Financials

2016[5]

  • Total Revenue: $494,000
  • Total Expenses: $477,968
  • Net Assets: $18,789

2015[15]

  • Total Revenue: $349,250
  • Total Expenses: $367,321
  • Net Assets: $2,757

2014[16]

  • Total Revenue: $343,000
  • Total Expenses: $341,718
  • Net Assets: $20,662

2013[17]

  • Total Revenue: $225,035
  • Total Expenses: $211,011
  • Net Assets: $19,380

2012[1]

  • Total Revenue: $150,000
  • Total Expenses: $144,645
  • Net Assets: $5,355

Personnel

Staff

  • John Tillman, Chairman[5]
  • Patrick Hughes, President.[18]
  • Diana Rickert, Vice President[18]
  • Jacob H. Huebert, Director of Litigation[18]
  • Jeffrey M. Schwab, Senior Attorney[18]
  • Laurel Buckley, director of Development[18]

Board

  • Stephanie Linares, Director[5]

Contact Information

Liberty Justice Center
190 S. LaSalle Street
Suite 1500, Chicago, IL 60603
Media Contact Office Phone: (7730-809-4403
Website: libertyjusticecenter.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LJCenter
Facebook: facebook.com/libertyjusticecenter

External resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Nonprofit Explorer, 2012 IRS Form 990, ProPublica, accessed June 2018.
  2. Diana Rickert and Nathaniel Hamilton LIBERTY JUSTICE CENTER TO ANNOUNCE NEW LITIGATION TODAY AT 2:30 P.M. PRESS CONFERENCE Press Release of IPI, March 21, 2015
  3. Kari Lydersen Conservative law practice takes on labor in two suits Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, July 8, 2015
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Celine McNicholas, Zane Mokhiber, and Marni von Wilpert Janus and fair share fees The Economic Policy Institute, February 21, 2018
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Nonprofit Explorer, 2016 990, ProPublica, accessed June 2018.
  6. Mary Bottari Behind Janus: Documents Reveal Decade-Long Plot to Kill Public-Sector Unions In These Times, Feb 22. 2018
  7. 7.0 7.1 Kelly Phillips Erb Chicago's 'Cloud Tax' On Streaming Services Like Netflix Survives Legal Challenge Forbes, May 29, 2018
  8. Judge Carl Anthony Walker [1] Court Document, May 24, 2018.
  9. CARRIE CONKO Supreme Court Will Hear Janus v. AFSCME State Policy Network, undated, accessed June 2018
  10. Charles Koch Institute, Partner Organizations, Charles Koch Institute, 2018.
  11. Bradley Foundation, [Goldwater Institute Grant Proposal], The Bradley Files, on file with CMD, November 10, 2014.
  12. Sourcewatch, Illinois Policy Institute Center for Media and Democracy, accessed June 2018
  13. Sourcewatch, Contributions of the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation Center for Media and Democracy, accessed June 2018
  14. Think Freely Media, 2014 Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 16, 2015.
  15. Nonprofit Explorer, 2015 IRS Form 990, ProPublica, accessed June 2018.
  16. Nonprofit Explorer, 2014 IRS Form 990, ProPublica, accessed June 2018.
  17. Nonprofit Explorer, 2013 IRS Form 990, ProPublica, accessed June 2018.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 Liberty Justice Center about accessed June 2018