William H. "Chip" Mellor (born December 31, 1950) serves as President and General Counsel of the Institute for Justice, which he co-founded. Mellor pursues constitutional litigation in four areas: economic liberty, property rights, school choice, and free speech.
Prior to the Institute for Justice
Mellor received his B.A. from Ohio State University in 1973 and his J.D. from the University of Denver Law School in 1977. From 1979-1983, he practiced public interest law with Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver. Following his time there, he served in the Ronald Reagan Administration as Deputy General Counsel for Legislation and Regulations in the United States Department of Energy.
From 1986 until 1991, Mellor served as president of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, a think tank located in San Francisco, California. Under Mellor's leadership, the Institute commissioned and published books on civil rights, property rights, technology, and the First Amendment that would later serve as the Institute for Justice's long-term, strategic litigation blueprint.
The Institute for Justice
In 1991, Clint Bolick and Chip Melllor founded the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit libertarian public interest law firm. Under Mellor's leadership, the Institute for Justice has litigated five U.S. Supreme Court cases, winning all but one:
- In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the Institute for Justice successfully defended Cleveland's school choice program from a lawsuit brought by teachers' unions and other school choice opponents. The landmark Supreme Court ruling held educational vouchers constitutional.
- In Granholm v. Heald, the Supreme Court struck down New York's ban on interstate wine sales. The Institute for Justice successfully argued the laws in question were put in place to protect the monopoly power of large, politically connected liquor wholesalers. The case raised issues of Internet commerce, free trade among the states, and regulations that hamper small businesses and their consumers.
- In Kelo v. City of New London, the Supreme Court ruled against the Institute in a controversial 5-4 decision that held private property can be taken for private development. The ruling led to a national backlash against eminent domain for private development. During litigation of the Kelo case, IJ launched the Castle Coalition, a nationwide network of homeowners and citizen activists determined to stop eminent domain for private development. In June 2005, they launched a $3 million Hands Off My Home campaign, calling it "an aggressive initiative to effect significant and substantial reforms of state and local eminent domain laws." According to the Institute for Justice, since the Kelo ruling nine state high courts have limited eminent domain powers, 43 state legislatures have passed greater property rights protections, 44 eminent domain abuse projects have been defeated by grassroots activists, and 88 percent of the public now believe that property rights are as important as free speech and freedom of religion.
- In Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn the Supreme Court upheld Arizona's school choice tax credit program and ruled that state residents do not have a right to challenge a state tax credit simply because they pay taxes.
- In June 2011,the Supreme Court struck down the "matching funds" provision of Arizona's campaign finance "Clean Elections" Act as an unconstitutional violation of free speech in Arizona Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett.
In addition, the Institute for Justice helped pursue the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller case, in which the Supreme Court struck down Washington D.C.'s ban on hand guns and held that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for private use.
Mellor personally litigated lawsuits that broke open Denver's 50-year-old taxi monopoly, ended the funeral industry's monopoly on casket sales in Tennessee, and defended New Jersey's welfare reform. He also established the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago and worked with University of Chicago professor Richard Epstein on amicus briefs for eight property rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2008, Mellor co-authored with Robert A. Levy of the Cato Institute, The Dirty Dozen (book): How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom. The book takes on twelve Supreme Court cases that effectively amended the Constitution and argues for a Supreme Court that will enforce what the Constitution says about civil liberties, property rights and other controversial issues.
Mellor's regular "Constitutional Crossroads" column is carried on Forbes.com and his work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe, New York Post, National Law Journal, Reason, National Review, Investor's Business Daily, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, The Today Show, and numerous other radio and television broadcasts and publications.
In a January 2012 profile of Mellor, titled Litigating for Liberty, the Wall Street Journal wrote, “Move over, ACLU. Chip Mellor, president of one of America's most influential law groups is expanding freedom on political speech, organ transplants and other economic frontiers.”  The interview can also be viewed here: http://www.ij.org/4252.
On June 7, 2012, Mellor was awarded the Bradley Foundation's Bradley Prize for leading “the fight for freedom in America’s courts by challenging laws that stifle constitutional rights.” His acceptance speech can be viewed here.
- March 2008 interview with Reason Magazine.
- Audio interview with the Property and Environment Research Center: 
- Mellor's Forbes.com "Constitutional Crossroads" column: 
- Mellor's Institute for Justice profile page: 
- Article; How Laws Kill Entrepreneurs by Chip Mellor and Clint Bolick: