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

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 leafletting. Even worse is that the agency kicked Santa out of its lobby while allowing other organizations to engage in political expression there—including the union itself. Represented by Pacific Legal Foundation, Freedom Foundation is suing the Department of Ecology in federal court for violating the First Amendment.

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Personal Liberties

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 either is true. Pacific Legal Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Rentberry, arguing the moratorium prohibits free speech rights of Rentberry, as well as the landlords and renters who would like to use such sites to communicate.

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Property Rights

Robertson v. United States

Montana man unjustly convicted of violating Clean Water Act

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prosecuted Joe Robertson for allegedly polluting waters of the United States as a result of a series of ponds he built on land above the small town of Basin, Montana. The prosecution turned on a definition of “waters of the United States” that included land 40 miles away from the nearest navigable river. A jury agreed with this definition, finding the ponds had a “significant nexus” to the river, and convicted Robertson. PLF has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Robertson’s conviction.

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By Ethan W. Blevins

Seattle “democracy vouchers” may head to state supreme court

Thomas Jefferson said, “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical”

People use money to express themselves Resistance T-shirts, MAGA hats, donations to moveonorg, promoted tweets–whatever your views may be, shouting louder than the other guy will cost you So, what if government takes money from one person to pay for another person’s expression? Is that really any different from forcing a Democrat to don a MAGA hat, or a Tar Heels fan to wear a Blue Devils jersey? (Full disclosure: I’m a Duke

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By Ethan W. Blevins

Seattle can’t ban criminal background checks

Does a landlord have a constitutional right to ask about someone’s criminal background before renting to them? Today, PLF filed a brief in Yim v. City of Seattle unveiling the (obvious) answer: Yes! … ›

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By Ethan W. Blevins

Seattle can’t ban websites it dislikes

Today, we filed a motion for summary judgment in Rentberry v. City of Seattle, asking a federal court to throw out Seattle’s ban on rental bidding websites. We argue that … ›

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By Ethan W. Blevins

Christmas in July

PLF is now Santa’s legal counsel. Santa probably fends off a barrage of bogus lawsuits; implied warranty claims from kids disappointed in their toys, property owners filing fraudulent claims over … ›

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Op-Ed

Seattle cracks down on renters, free speech – and common sense.

Originally published by Fox News June 8, 2018. The Seattle City Council seems to think the right to speak is a privilege it can grant or withhold at its pleasure. … ›

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By Ethan W. Blevins

PLF sues Seattle for banning websites

Today, we sued Seattle for banning a website. The city council decided that it didn’t like new housing websites that allow tenants to bid on rent. The city council had … ›

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