IJ Minnesota Chapter: First Case, First Victory
By Nick Dranias
In a victory for entrepreneurs, the Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter, IJ’s newest state chapter, forced the Minnesota Board of Barber and Cosmetologist Examiners to admit that its licensing scheme was unconstitutional as applied to hairbraiders. As part of a court order, the Board agreed to write new rules that free braiders from the State’s occupational licensing regulations requiring 1,550 hours of cosmetology training that can cost up to $14,500 in tuition.
Under the terms of the order issued by Hennepin County District Court, IJ-MN will postpone its litigation while the Board engages in rulemaking. IJ-MN can re-initiate litigation if the Board fails to enact the agreed-upon exemptions by April 20, 2006, the one-year anniversary of IJ-MN’s filing the case.
This was IJ-MN’s first case after opening its doors in late April.
“It is great to start with a victory,” said Lee McGrath, IJ-MN’s executive director. “More importantly, the Board’s admission that its occupational licensing scheme is unconstitutional is a victory for those who believe that the Constitution protects a person’s right to earn an honest living. With this case, we advanced economic liberty—the idea that every American has a right to earn an honest living free from arbitrary government interference.”
“This is welcome news for small business owners,” said Lillian Anderson, owner of the braiding shop Extensions Plus and lead plaintiff in the case of Anderson v. Minnesota Board of Barber and Cosmetologist Examiners. “All I ever wanted was a chance to run my business without the threat of the Board closing my shop.”
As part of a 32-page order approved by the Court, the Board agreed to adopt administrative rules that exempt braiders from all licensing requirements. The Board was also permanently enjoined from its licensing scheme against hairbraiders.
“The Board’s regulations never made sense because they were completely unrelated to braiding,” said IJ plaintiff Ejgayehu Beyene Asres, who works at the Braid Factory in South Minneapolis. “I never considered going to cosmetology school because not one minute of the 10 months of classes dealt with braiding.”
“I’m thrilled that we can practice our art and culture without the cloud of prosecution hanging over us,” said plaintiff Saleemah Salahud-Din Shabazz, a braider who works out of her home in North Minneapolis. “Braiding is more than a job. It is part of who I am. Today I am free to do what I love.”
Thanks to IJ’s litigation and the advocacy of our clients, Minnesota now joins Arizona, California, Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Washington state and the District of Columbia in freeing braiders from burdensome and unnecessary cosmetology licensing laws.
Nick Dranias is an IJ-MN staff attorney.