by Jennifer Tiedemann
For Jacob Huebert, making his career in public interest law was really a no-brainer: It was always a field that captured his interest. “Public interest law is the most fun you can have as a lawyer,” he says. “You have interesting issues, you have the opportunity to increase people’s liberty, and you get to fight bad guys on the other side. It’s the perfect combination.”
Giving people more control over the course of their own lives is what drove Jacob to get involved in the law in the first place. “I saw how the government uses the law to interfere in the economic marketplace and the marketplace of political ideas and the harm that causes,” he explains. And so he chose a career in law to help counteract that tendency and help rein in the government when it uses the law in a way that takes away people’s freedom.
After working as a litigator and as a clerk to a Sixth Circuit judge in his native Ohio, he jumped fully into the freedom movement, joining the Liberty Justice Center when it was founded in 2011 and serving as its Director of Litigation. And from the very start of his time there, he worked on cases that helped average people overcome too much red tape. His first case at Liberty Justice Center involved challenging a local Illinois law that enabled Bloomington city officials to keep new competitors from entering the vehicle-for-hire market in order to protect established taxi and other vehicle services.
“We challenged that law on behalf of a woman who wanted to start her own vehicle service, and after more than a year of litigation, we won, and she was able to start that business,” Jacob says of the case. “That early experience was really encouraging because it showed that you can challenge this kind of law that harms people who want to start a business and that harms consumers, and you can succeed.”
Huebert joined the Goldwater Institute in August 2018, but he’s long been a fan of the Institute’s work. “I saw [the Goldwater Institute’s] litigation center as the leader among state-based litigation groups and among groups using state constitutions to advance liberty,” he says. “So for as long as I’ve done this kind of work, the Goldwater Institute has been my inspiration, so when I had the opportunity to work there, of course I wanted to take it.”
Protecting the freedom of speech has been a focus of Jacob’s throughout his legal career; earlier this year, he was part of the team that litigated a landmark free speech case before the U.S. Supreme Court. In Janus v. AFSCME, the Court ruled that that government employees cannot be forced to pay dues to a union. And now as a Goldwater attorney, he’s working to help guarantee free speech rights for more Americans. Just this month, the Institute filed a lawsuit in Oregon District Court on behalf of two attorneys whose mandatory bar association dues were used to publish political speech unrelated to regulating the practice of law. Jacob is leading Goldwater’s legal team on the case; you can read about the importance of extending free-speech rights to attorneys in the recent Wall Street Journal op-ed he penned with Goldwater Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur.
Jacob’s work is really about helping the little guy, he says, and as an attorney, he’s been able to help people hold on to their rights and pursue their goals with less government interference. “You can beat the local officials, the bureaucrats, you can help the would-be entrepreneur and actually make a difference in somebody’s life.”
Jennifer Tiedemann is Deputy Communications Director at the Goldwater Institute.