Jeffrey Schwab: Where is He Now?

In the latest past employee profile of the "Where Are They Now?" series, we talk to Jeffrey Schwab who is now a staff attorney with the Liberty Justice Center. Jeff worked as an associate attorney at Mauck & Baker from 2006-2014. 

1. What are you now doing with the Liberty Justice Center?

Liberty Justice Center is focused on protecting fundamental rights in Illinois, such as the right to earn a living, private property rights and free speech, and restraining government overreach through litigation.

Some of our cases include: (1) a lawsuit against the City of Chicago on behalf of consumers of internet-based amusements, such as Netflix and Spotify, after the City expanded the amusement tax to include paid internet-based video, audio and games; (2) a free-speech lawsuit on behalf of a small business in Downers Grove, who was forced to paint over its more than 70-year-old painted sign under the Village's amended sign code; and (3) a case on behalf of state employees who have opted out of union representation, but are still required to pay so-called agency fees, in violation of their First Amendment rights.

In addition, recently the Evanston City Council unanimously voted to repeal a provision of the city’s food-truck ordinance that banned food trucks based outside of Evanston from operating in the city after four years of fighting a lawsuit that we filed challenging that provision on behalf of Beavers Donuts and Coffee.

2. What are the most potent dangers to free markets currently in Illinois and around the nation?

Some of the more pernicious dangers to free markets are barriers-to-entry laws that make it harder for small businesses and entrepreneurs to operate. For example, laws requiring people to obtain a license in order to practice a profession - which even the Obama administration has recognized as problematic - make it difficult for entrepreneurs, particularly those with lower incomes, to do certain work. These laws claim to be in the interest of protecting consumers, but existing businesses or individuals in these fields usually lobby for them in an attempt to limit competition. Until recently, food carts in Chicago, a popular way for immigrants to make a living, were illegal, which meant the thousands of food cart vendors who operated in Chicago did so illegally.

3. Can you offer some perspective on what the Bible says about free enterprise?

Although the idea of free markets is not addressed in the Bible - and indeed, the theory behind free markets wouldn't be well established for some 1800 years after the death of Jesus - we can extract principles in the Bible that support the principles of free markets. Freedom is a recurring theme in the Bible, the Law of Moses assumes property rights ("thou shall not steal"), and Jesus admonishes us to care for the poor. Free markets involve the voluntary exchange of goods and services, allow people to pursue a calling where they can provide something valuable to other people, and are the most effective mechanism for bringing people out of poverty.

4. What are some ways private citizens can advocate for economic liberty and private property rights?

First, educate yourself about the importance of these freedoms so you can converse with your friends and family about their importance. Second, get involved at the local level, where many of the restrictions on economic liberty and property rights occur and where the involvement of a few dedicated people can make a big difference.

5. How can one stay up to date on your work?

Visit our website at libertyjusticecenter.org, follow our blog posts at Illinoispolicy.org and follow me on Twitter @JeffreyMSchwab.

Listen to Jeff's interview on Lawyers for Jesus Radio below.

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