Arif Panju

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Arif Panju joined the Institute for Justice in 2012.  He litigates economic liberty, First Amendment, property rights, school choice, and other constitutional cases in federal and state courts.

Arif represents entrepreneurs to protect their right to earn an honest living.  He litigated Brantley v. Kuntz, a successful 14th Amendment economic liberty challenge to Texas laws that forced African hair braiders to open large, fully-equipped barber colleges before legally teaching aspiring braiders.  Following the victory, Arif spearheaded the legislative effort that deregulated the practice of African hair braiding in Texas.  In Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, Arif helped represent a group of eyebrow threaders who were put out of work when the state began enforcing cosmetology licensing laws against them.  In a landmark victory, the Texas Supreme Court declared the laws unconstitutional and announced a new test for reviewing economic regulations under the Texas Constitution.  Following Patel, Arif successfully represented four San Antonio food truck entrepreneurs in a challenge to the city’s prohibition on operating within 300 feet of a restaurant unless one had permission from their brick-and-mortar competitors.  The City repealed the law in response to IJ’s lawsuit.

Currently, Arif is counsel for three craft breweries challenging a Texas law that strips breweries of their right to negotiate the sale of their distribution rights, and instead forces them to surrender those rights to distributors without compensation.  He is also representing three Charleston tour guides in a First Amendment occupational speech challenge to the city’s tour-guide testing and licensing scheme.

In the area of school choice, Arif helped represent six parents in the successful defense of the Alabama Accountability Act.  Magee v. Boyd was a resounding victory in the Alabama Supreme Court for parents, students, and educational choice.

Arif’s work on constitutional law at IJ has been featured in many outlets including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, Austin American-Statesman, Houston Chronicle, and Texas Lawyer.

Prior to joining IJ, Arif was an attorney at Cantilo & Bennett LLP, and a former constitutional law fellow at IJ. Arif sits on the board of directors for the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, serves in the leadership for the Austin Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society, and founded the Austin Chapter of America’s Future Foundation.

Arif graduated with honors from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in 2009. During law school he clerked on the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary.  Arif received his undergraduate degree from Southwest Texas State University.

Arif lives in Austin with his wife and son.

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