Arif Panju is an attorney with the Institute for Justice’s Texas office. He joined the Institute in September 2012 and litigates cutting-edge constitutional cases protecting economic liberty, the First Amendment, school choice, property rights and other individual liberties in both federal and state courts.
Arif served as lead attorney in Brantley v. Kuntz, representing Isis Brantley in a successful 14th Amendment economic liberty case in federal court. The case challenged the constitutionality of laws that forced African hair braiding schools in Texas to convert into fully-equipped barber colleges before they could teach hair braiding. Following the victory, Arif spearheaded the effort in the Texas Legislature to completely deregulate African hair braiding in Texas. On June 8, 2015, HB 2717 was signed into law. Hair braiders no longer need a government license to earn a living.
In the area of school choice, Arif served as co-counsel for six parents in Magee v. Boyd, and successfully defended the constitutionality of the Alabama Accountability Act in the Alabama Supreme Court. The decision was a resounding victory for Alabama parents and students. It also means that Alabama’s school choice program will continue to save children from failing schools for years to come.
Currently, Arif is co-counsel for three craft breweries in a constitutional challenge to a Texas law that strips breweries of their traditional right to sell their distribution rights, and instead forces them to surrender those rights to distributors without compensation. He is also representing teeth-whitening entrepreneurs before the Alabama Supreme Court in a constitutional challenge to Alabama’s prohibition on non-dentist teeth whitening.
Arif also works through the media and legislation to educate the public and protect individual liberty. His work on constitutional law at IJ has been featured in newspapers and websites including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, Austin American-Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Texas Lawyer, Texas Tribune, Birmingham News, Reason Magazine, and in blogs for The Atlantic, Huffington Post, ABA Journal and Fox Business. In 2011, Arif helped advance the effort to pass anti-SLAPP legislation in the Texas Legislature and provide better protections for those asserting their First Amendment rights.
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 chairs 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 in 1999.