Untangling African Hairbraiders from Utah's Cosmetology Regime

 

    

 

The Constitution protects the right to earn an honest living without arbitrary and unreasonable government interference. But if you want to braid hair for a living in Utah, you must submit yourself to a completely irrational licensing scheme to get permission from the government before you are allowed to work. Jestina Clayton, a college graduate, wife, mother of two and refugee from Sierra Leone’s civil war has been braiding hair for most of her life. Now she wants to use her considerable skills to help provide for her family while her husband finishes his education. But the state of Utah says she may not be paid to braid unless she first spends thousands of dollars on 2,000 hours of government-mandated cosmetology training—not one hour of which actually teaches her how to braid hair. In the same number of class hours, a person also could qualify to be an armed security guard, mortgage loan originator, real estate sales agent, EMT and lawyer—combined. Such arbitrary and excessive government-imposed licensing on such an ordinary, safe and uncomplicated practice as hairbraiding is not only outrageous, it is unconstitutional. Jestina pled her case to the Utah’s licensing board and to Utah legislators but to no avail. That is why on April 26, 2011, the Institute for Justice (IJ) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Utah to challenge Utah’s hairbraiding regulations.

 

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