Legal research and sometimes participation in litigation are among the tools The Heartland Institute uses to advance its mission of discovering, developing, and promoting free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Heartland's efforts in this area are overseen by Senior Fellow Paul Fisher and Policy Advisor David Applegate.

The rule of law is fundamental to the operation of a free society. Without it, there can be no protection of private property and no enforcement of contracts. The alternative to ordered liberty is the use of force or fraud, the opposite of peaceful and productive cooperation.

Heartland files amicus briefs in cases where important principles of freedom are at stake. These have included cases involving the Second Amendment – the right to keep and bear arms – and environmental regulation, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to regulate carbon dioxide as a “pollutant” under the Clean Air Act.

David Applegate writes a biweekly e-newsletter for Heartland titled Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly, which reports on real examples of outrageous abuses of the legal system. Lawsuit abuse impose enormous financial costs on everyone. We hope that by calling out examples of such abuse, we can encourage the adoption of public policies that reduces such abuses.

Maureen Martin, The Heartland Institute's long-time senior fellow and legal counsel, passed away on February 5, 2013. This is Heartland's page in her tribute.


  • Gun Rights

    Born in a violent revolution against a colonial power, the United States professes to be a nation of laws and not of men. Yet those laws are ultimately backed by guns, as evidenced by the presence of armed government agents at every courthouse.
  • Tort Reform

    The clamor for “meaningful” federal tort reform is positively deafening. The best avenue for reform is in the states, not Congress.
  • In Defense of Smokers

    There are about 50 million adult smokers in the U.S. They have been relentlessly demonized by the public health establishment and subjected to discriminatory taxes and violations of their liberties. Read why Heartland defends smokers.