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Week in Review: Goldwater is Getting an Innocent Grandmother’s Car Back

March 13, 2021

Massachusetts grandmother Malinda Harris wasn’t a criminal. She hadn’t even been accused of committing a crime. That didn’t stop police in Berkshire County from taking her car away and keeping it for six years. But just days after the Goldwater Institute announced it was getting involved on Malinda’s behalf, the bureaucrats changed their tune—and said that Malinda would be getting her car back.

Malinda is just one of the latest victims of civil asset forfeiture, laws under which police can take, keep, and profit from someone’s property without even charging them with a crime—much less convicting them of one. Malinda shared her story this week at USA Today, in an op-ed co-authored by her and Goldwater Institute Senior Attorney Stephen Silverman. In it, they write that “states ought to turn their attention to doing away with this form of government theft, instead of turning a blind eye to the abuse of innocent people.”

Goldwater is a national leader in fighting civil forfeiture—and standing up for average Americans against government theft. Last year, for example, Tucson handyman Kevin McBride was left stranded when police confiscated his Jeep—his primary source of income—using civil forfeiture laws and demanded $1,900 to return it. The Goldwater Institute threatened to sue the government, and Kevin got his Jeep back. Goldwater is also making efforts to reform civil asset forfeiture laws around the country, working with state legislatures to change these laws that unfairly harm innocent Americans.

You can read more about our work to stop civil forfeiture here. And for more on how Goldwater is taking on government theft, listen in to Goldwater Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur’s appearance on “Armstrong & Getty” this week.

Big Brother Should Get Out of Women’s Way

We’ve got a message for Big Brother: Don’t patronize women.

Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in Meland v. Padilla, a lawsuit brought by our friends at the Pacific Legal Foundation challenging a California law (SB 826) that forces corporate shareholders to take a candidate’s sex into account every time they vote for board members. SB 826 requires all publicly traded companies incorporated or even just headquartered in California to have at least one female board member, and it subjects violators to hefty fines and public chastisement. The Goldwater Institute filed a brief in the case arguing that, well-intentioned as it may be, this law in reality patronizes women, disregards their individual preferences, and makes it harder for them to succeed in the workplace.

Laws like SB 826 ignore the fact that women want flexibility in their careers. That’s why the number of women-owned businesses has increased 3000% since 1972, and women are increasingly choosing to work in the “gig” economy. Instead of enacting top-down, one-size-fits-all mandates—such as sex-based employment quotas, paid parental leave, or minimum wages–lawmakers should instead work to eliminate overreaching occupational licensing laws to make it easier for women to pursue the job of their choice. And getting rid of local rules that make it difficult or even a crime for people to work from home would remove senseless barriers to work that have fallen especially hard on working moms.

Read more from Goldwater Institute Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur at In Defense of Liberty.

“Woke” is Broke

Statues of our Founding Fathers are getting toppled by rioters. Textbooks are getting rewritten by activists. In fact, in some American government classes, the U.S. Constitution isn’t even required reading.

Though it may seem as if American society has collectively reached this cultural tipping point overnight, the attacks on individual freedom and civic institutions are the effects of a decades-old worldview known as Critical Race Theory. Once we consider what Critical Race Theory is all about, we discover that this view of our country does not intend to give more people a chance at the American Dream but to engage in a never-ending struggle for power.

At In Defense of Liberty this week, we explore Critical Race Theory—what it is, its history, where we can find it today, and how it’s hurting people in America right now. We must defend American values from the so-called “woke” crusaders who are redefining the vital concept of justice, and that’s why at the Goldwater Institute, we’re fighting back. Our Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy is working to defend constitutional rights and promote an understanding, appreciation, and support for the U.S. Constitution. You can read more about the Van Sittert Center here.

And as Critical Race Theory creeps in to K-12 classrooms, Goldwater is working to pass academic transparency legislation will help inform parents of what their kids are learning so they can have true choice in education. Read about Goldwater’s work to pass academic transparency reform in our home state of Arizona here.



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