Robert E. Johnson

Robert E. Johnson

Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice

Rob Johnson is a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, where he litigates to protect private property, free speech, and other individual rights. Rob is a nationally-recognized expert on civil forfeiture. He previously represented a series of small business owners who had their entire bank accounts seized by the IRS, and he launched an initiative that resulted in the IRS reopening hundreds of closed forfeiture cases and returning millions of dollars. He has also litigated cases challenging the constitutionality of civil forfeiture procedures, and he scored a victory striking down a forfeiture program as a violation of due process.

Beyond civil forfeiture, Rob has litigated cases defending a range of constitutional rights. He was part of teams that successfully challenged occupational licensing requirements for tour guides in Savannah and Charleston. He also developed a class action lawsuit fighting the NYPD’s use of a draconian “no-fault eviction” statute to coerce residents to waive their constitutional rights, which led New York City to reform the challenged law.

Rob’s writing has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Politico, and Reason, among other venues. Rob has testified about occupational licensing before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and has twice testified about civil forfeiture before the House Ways & Means Oversight Subcommittee. He has also testified before state legislatures across the country.

From 2014-2017, Rob served as IJ’s first Elfie Gallun Fellow for Freedom and the Constitution. In that role, Rob wrote and spoke about the vital role the U.S. Constitution plays in protecting our most precious freedoms. He is currently at work on a book about the Fourteenth Amendment.

Rob studied literature and anthropology at Columbia University, and he studied law at Harvard Law School. Upon graduation, he clerked for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski on the Ninth Circuit and for Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

Rob lives in Cleveland with his wife and two daughters—all named after characters in Shakespeare plays—and is an amateur large format photographer.


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