Ethan W. Blevins

Attorney Washington

Ethan Blevins joined PLF’s Pacific Northwest office in August 2014. He litigates cases involving the First Amendment, property rights, school choice, and the separation of powers.

Ethan began his trek toward liberty after moving to China in his late teens. He had grown up admiring his great uncle, who had moved to China during the communist revolution. Throughout his youth and early adulthood, Ethan believed in those faulty ideals. His time in China, where he studied martial arts full-time, started to break that spell. While there, he witnessed the poverty, corruption, and oppression that were the true legacies of communism. Over time, he became convinced that only individual liberty can bring about peace, prosperity, and human potential. Ethan sees his work at PLF as a vital front in the fight against the bitter consequences of the statism that he witnessed living abroad.

Ethan began his legal career at Duke University, where he received his JD and an LLM in International and Comparative Law. He then clerked for Justice Don Willett of the Supreme Court of Texas—a true friend to liberty. Inspired by Justice Willett’s staunch belief in individual rights, Ethan decided to devote his legal career to freedom.

Outside work, Ethan is a husband, father, and certifiable geek. He is in the process of publishing his debut novel—the first installment in a fantasy series. When he isn’t chasing around his three small children, he writes fantasy, plays nerdy games at a local gaming store, and serves in the young men’s organization of a local church congregation.

Minnesota Assoc. Builders and Contractors v. Minneapolis Public School District

Bulldozing unfair, illegal union-rigged construction scheme

With 75 buildings and 35,000 students, there’s plenty of construction work in the Minneapolis School District. But many hardworking Minnesotans never get a shot at a school project. In 2004, the district adopted a project labor agreement, or PLA, that favors politically powerful unions over nonunion contractors. This type of agreement forces ...

Ostrewich v. Trautman

Your shirt or your vote: Fighting to protect free speech at the ballot box

When Jillian Ostrewich entered her Houston, Texas, polling place in 2018, she expected the only decisions she’d face would be on the ballot. Instead, an election judge gave her an ultimatum: turn her shirt inside out or forfeit her vote. Similarly, in 2018, a Dallas-area election judge ordered Tony Ortiz to turn his “MAGA” hat ins ...

Freedom Foundation v. Washington Dept. of Ecology

State agency Scrooge violates Santa’s First Amendment rights

Each year around the holidays, Washington-based Freedom Foundation sends staff members to the lobbies of state agency buildings. These staffers—dressed as Santa—hand out leaflets that explain state employees’ right to opt out of union dues. Allowed by most agencies, the Washington Department of Ecology in 2017 instead prohibited the leafl ...

Rentberry v. City of Seattle

Seattle’s unconstitutional rent-bidding law blocks innovation, free speech

Rentberry is a small San Francisco-based startup that connects landlords and renters through a rent-bidding website. The company hopes to expand its service to Seattle, however city council adopted a one-year moratorium on the service over concerns it might violate existing rental law and might inflate housing costs—despite no evidence that eithe ...

Yim v. City of Seattle

Seattle wages unconstitutional war on landlords

In a noble but misguided effort to combat racial discrimination, the City of Seattle passed a series of ordinances forbidding local landlords from choosing their own tenants. A “first in time” ordinance requires landlords to rent to the first financially-qualified tenant who applies. And the “Fair Chance Housing Ordinance” f ...

Elster v. City of Seattle, Washington

Seattle’s politician enrichment tax forces property owners to subsidize private political speech and violates the First Amendment

Representing Seattle residents and property owners, PLF sued to overturn Seattle’s ordinance mandating public campaign financing. Under the city’s “democracy voucher” program, each Seattle resident receives four $25 vouchers to support eligible candidates for local political office. The money to fund the voucher program is t ...

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June 17, 2019

The Hill: Seattle is trying to handcuff landlords — so they’re fighting to protect their rights

Last week, the Washington Supreme Court heard arguments about the constitutionality of two radical Seattle housing laws that handcuff landlords in selecting their tenants. Cities across the country are watching the court as they contemplate similar measures. The two laws in question, both aimed at limiting property owners' ability to exercise discr ...

June 03, 2019

The Hill: California lawmakers haven’t learned their lesson on rent control

Economist Thomas Sowell once quipped, "The first lesson of economics is scarcity" and "the first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics." With California's recent flirtation with statewide rent control, it seems Golden State lawmakers are treating Sowell's warning as a game plan. The results will be predictable: less affor ...

May 06, 2019

The Hill: Gillibrand wants to nationalize Seattle’s failed, unconstitutional ‘democracy vouchers’

Presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) recently unveiled an ill-advised scheme called "Democracy Dollars." The plan is to tighten up corporate tax loopholes and shower the American people with marginal revenue. But there's a catch — the recipients can only use the money for contributions to political campaigns. Thus, Gillibrand's ...

April 29, 2019

Trickle or torrent, all property owners are haunted by waters

On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal published my op-ed about Navy veteran Joe Robertson, who went to federal prison for digging ponds high in the Montana mountains. Here's the article's opening: "I am haunted by waters," wrote Norman Maclean in "A River Runs Through It," his 1976 novel about growing up in a family of ...

April 26, 2019

Wall Street Journal: A Navy Veteran Went to Prison for Digging Ponds in the Mountains

The Supreme Court can remedy the injustice done by the EPA's unclear ‘navigable waters' rule. "I am haunted by waters," wrote Norman Maclean in "A River Runs Through It," his 1976 novel about growing up in a family of Montana fly fishermen. Joe Robertson was haunted by waters of a different kind—the kind that can ...

April 04, 2019

Seattle’s ban on background checks inches toward Supreme Court

Artwork by PLF Client Kelly Lyles Landlords in Seattle can't ask about or even consider a rental applicant's criminal history. This edict was handed down in 2017 by the Seattle's "Fair Chance Housing" Ordinance. The law is merciless: it allows zero flexibility for the gravity or age of the offense or the circumstance of the ...

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