On this week’s episode of The Great Antidote podcast with Juliette Sellgren, she is joined by guest Scott Bullock. In their discussion, Juliette and Scott cover the Supreme Court case Kelo v. The City of New London, civil asset forfeiture, eminent domain, and innovative criminal justice policy solutions.
Scott Bullock joined the Institute for Justice at its founding in 1991. In January 2016, he became its second President and General Counsel. IJ pursues strategic public interest litigation that combines courtroom advocacy with media relations, activism, and strategic research to secure constitutional protection for individual rights.
Before becoming president, Bullock served as a senior attorney and litigated a wide variety of constitutional challenges in federal and state courts, including some of IJ’s most iconic cases.
He was involved in many cases challenging the use of eminent domain for private development. He argued the historic Kelo v. City of New London, one of the most controversial and widely discussed U.S. Supreme Court decisions in decades. Following Kelo, Bullock worked extensively on grassroots and legislative campaigns with homeowners, small business owners, and activists to foment the nationwide backlash against eminent domain abuse.
Bullock was also co-lead counsel in the first state supreme court victory after Kelo, where the Supreme Court of Ohio unanimously struck down the use of eminent domain for private development. Some of his other successes in this area include spearheading the litigation that saved a beachfront neighborhood in Long Branch, New Jersey, a small record label in Nashville, Tennessee and the homes of the Archie family in Canton, Mississippi.
Bullock was lead attorney in IJ’s representation of the monks of St. Joseph Abbey in their challenge to a Louisiana law that prevented them from selling hand-made wooden caskets. That case led to a landmark decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals protecting economic liberty.
He also founded and directed the Institute’s initiative against civil forfeiture, a national effort to challenge the ability of governments to take property from owners without a criminal conviction. He led the litigation team that successfully defended a family-owned motel from a forfeiture attempt by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston. He is co-author of Policing for Profit, a comprehensive report published in 2010 documenting forfeiture abuse at all levels of government.
Among his work on other constitutional issues, Bullock established an early precedent extending free speech guarantees to Internet and software publishers in the Institute’s First Amendment challenge to a federal agency’s campaign against investment newsletters, computer software and websites. He also led successful lawsuits against rental inspection laws and efforts to open up taxi markets to more competition.
Bullock’s articles and views on constitutional litigation have appeared in a wide variety of media. He has published articles in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and he has appeared on 60 Minutes, ABC Nightly News, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and National Public Radio, among many other publications and broadcasts.
His volunteer activities have included serving on the boards of a Washington, D.C.-based music and cultural center dedicated to the promotion of jazz and a national forfeiture reform organization.
Bullock was born in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and grew up in Jeannette and Greensburg, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh. He received his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh and his B.A. in economics and philosophy from Grove City College.