Ethan W. Blevins

Attorney Washington

Ethan Blevins joined PLF in August 2014 and works in Salt Lake City, Utah. He litigates cases involving the First Amendment, property rights, 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 saw the poverty, corruption, and oppression that are the true legacies of communism. Over time, he became convinced that only individual liberty can bring about peace, prosperity, and human potential.

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

Navigable Waters Cases

Fighting government’s make-believe, illegal definition of navigable waters

The Clean Water Act (CWA) has a seemingly simple purpose: protect the navigable waters of the United States from pollution. The federal agencies charged with carrying out and enforcing the law, however, have expanded the definition of “navigable waters” several times since the Act went on the books in 1972. Represented by PLF free of ch ...

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 ...

Latest Posts

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November 14, 2019

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

On November 14, 2019, the Washington Supreme Court delivered a disappointing decision for the pair of cases titled Yim v. City of Seattle. Earlier this year, Ethan Blevins wrote in The Hill about these cases and Seattle’s ongoing assault on property rights. ~~~ Last week, the Washington Supreme Court heard arguments about the constitutionalit ...

November 11, 2019

The Hill: Tech industry’s massive pledge to affordable housing distracts from the real problem

Last week, Apple joined other big tech companies in tossing loads of cash at California's housing crisis. They outdid Facebook and Google with a whopping pledge of $2.5 billion. The money is split into, among other things, an affordable housing investment fund and construction of affordable units on Apple-owned property. Charity no doubt will help ...

November 08, 2019

Seattle homeowners ask Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of “Democracy Vouchers”

This week, Pacific Legal Foundation asked the Supreme Court of the United States to grapple with the constitutionality of Seattle's new-fangled campaign finance scheme, known as the "Democracy Voucher." "Democracy Vouchers" impose a special property tax levy, then give the revenue to private citizens in the form of vouchers, which they can use only ...

October 17, 2019

Seattle is improving some housing policies, but more need to change

For decades, cities have slogged through a depressing trend: limited housing options have forced rents higher than ever. A New Yorker even founded a political party to argue that "Rent Is Too Damn High." While some advocates have pushed policies that actually make the affordable housing issue worse (like rent control, and affordable housing "fees" ...

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 ...

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