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.

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.

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Personal Liberties

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 taken from the city’s property owners via a dedicated levy. The lawsuit argues that these compelled subsidies violate the First Amendment right to refrain from speaking – or funding the speech of another person.

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Personal Liberties

Shock v. City of Seattle, Washington

Seattle imposes arbitrary and unconstitutional tax on achievement

The Washington State Constitution prohibits the government from levying an income tax on targeted segments of the population; any income tax must be uniformly applied to all citizens. Nonetheless, Seattle enacted an income tax targeting those making in excess of $250,000 per year with a 2.25% tax rate, setting a 0% rate for everyone else. Promoted as a “wealth tax,” the City’s income tax punishes achievement and success, while threatening poor and middle class families who could later fall subject to new city, county, and state taxes if Seattle’s gambit succeeds. PLF represents Seattle residents in a lawsuit challenging the city’s knowing violation of the state constitution.

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Property Rights

Yim v. City of Seattle

Seattle smears all city landlords as bigots

Convinced that all Seattle landlords harbor racist tendencies deep in their subconscious minds, the city passed a law forbidding them from choosing their own tenants. The new first-in-time law requires landlords to rent to the first financially-qualified tenant who applies. PLF represents landlords of small rental properties in the city who rely in part on their experience and discretion in discerning with whom they want to share their homes. They are suing because the city’s law deprives them of the constitutionally-guaranteed choice to decide who to allow on their private property, and who to exclude.

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By Ethan W. Blevins

Why juries matter when you’re up against the government

If the federal government takes your property, who would you want to decide how much it owes you: the government that took your stuff or a jury of your peers?

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By Ethan W. Blevins

PLF appeals in speech case against Seattle

First, has anyone run for office recently that you detest? Second, how would you feel if your government forced you to donate $100 to that candidate’s campaign? Now you know how our clients feel about democracy vouchers.

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By Ethan W. Blevins

Justice Don Willett: “Unshakably wedded to the rule of law”

Justice Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court endured the partisan gauntlet of the Senate hearing on his nomination to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The hearing only confirmed what has been known for some time: Justice Willett will serve the federal judiciary with integrity, wit, and commitment.

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By Ethan W. Blevins

Judge rejects First Amendment challenge to democracy-voucher program

Today, Judge Beth Andrus granted Seattle’s motion to dismiss our clients’ First Amendment challenge to the city’s democracy-voucher program Judge Andrus held that forcing property owners to pay for private residents’ campaign contributions does not burden property owners’ speech rights This disappointing decision runs contrary to a long line of Supreme Court cases stating that the First Amendment allows each of us to decide what to say and what not to say The Supreme Court has applied this rule to compelled speech and compelled subsidies of speech, like the tax at issue here Our clients and Seattle property owners generally should not be forced to sponsor other people’s political

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By Ethan W. Blevins

Oral argument on Seattle’s “democracy voucher” program

This Friday will be a big day for the First Amendment: a court will hear oral argument in Elster v. City of Seattle, PLF’s challenge to Seattle’s “democracy voucher” program. This is … ›

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By Ethan W. Blevins

Can government force you to pay for someone else’s expression?

Think on these three statements:

  1. A law forbids you from posting a sign that says, “Vote for Voldemort”
  2. A law forces you to post a sign that says, “Vote for Voldemort”
  3. A law forces you to pay for someone else’s sign that says, “Vote for Voldemort”

Should the First Amendment treat these laws differently? (more…)

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