Why We’re Suing the Government


August 28, 2015 11:56AM

Beacon made headlines this week when we announced the formation of a new Legal Foundation to challenge unfair and unconstitutional laws on behalf of Tennesseans, and that we are doing so at no cost to them.

Beacon decided to establish a litigation arm primarily because no one is taking up the fight for Tennesseans to protect their economic liberty, defend their property rights, and hold government accountable. Until now.

Further, we have become very effective at advancing free market ideas and policy solutions in our state. Our track record includes successfully advocating for tort reforms, the repeal of our death tax, school choice programs, and healthcare freedom, among others. These are extraordinarily important, but sometimes Tennesseans need more immediate action to protect their rights. And sometimes that requires legal action.

Beacon will make it a top priority to defend the rights of Tennesseans when senseless legal barriers stand in their way. Through strategic litigation, we will break down those barriers and pave a clear path for Tennesseans to live free and prosper.

But conservatives filing lawsuits? Is that right? Public interest law has been around for awhile, and frankly, the Left uses litigation to chip away at the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government, and we’ve sat back and let it happen for decades. Standing among the few who have responded in kind are the Institute for Justice and Goldwater Institute, who have done a bang up job defending the rights of countless Americans. We hope to follow in their footsteps right here in Tennessee.

One of the reasons conservatives may be wary of the concept of “litigating for liberty” is that it seems to encourage activist judges to find rights where they don’t exist. But what we are doing is the opposite: we are asking judges to acknowledge limits on government power where they do exist.

The U.S. Constitution was written to precisely define the limits of government, something that had never been done before. The Bill of Rights was written to precisely limit what the government may do to its citizens, something that also had never been done before. Seen this way, conservatives should welcome court supervision. The courts just need to remain within constitutional parameters. Besides, as recent years have demonstrated, someone needs to mind the store.

In addition, Tennessee’s Constitution has been hailed as one of the most liberty-friendly documents ever written. Thomas Jefferson even called it the “least imperfect and most republican of the state constitutions.” Through our Legal Foundation, we want to breath new life into many of the rights envisioned by our Constitution’s drafters in a way that no one else is doing. Strategic litigation is yet another arrow in our quiver when it comes to empowering Tennesseans.