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Transforming the Legal—and Regulatory—Landscape in Texas

One of the hallmarks of IJ’s economic liberty litigation is our strategic vision. We win victories to build a rule of law that protects the right of everyone to earn an honest living free from unnecessary government interference. After securing wins in court, IJ of course builds on that precedent by filing new lawsuits. But winning in court also helps us advance economic liberty in other ways.

In Texas, IJ’s strategic plan is playing out in real time after our landmark 2015 victory for economic liberty in the Texas Supreme Court. In that case, Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, Texas’ high court struck down state licensing requirements for eyebrow threaders and announced that the Texas Constitution requires that courts provide meaningful scrutiny of economic regulations and determine whether they are unreasonably burdensome. The impact of IJ’s Patel victory now extends to all three branches of the Texas government.

In the years following Patel, IJ worked in the Texas Legislature and with the Office of the Governor to help create structural change in the executive branch that would simplify and streamline licensing in Texas. Now, all proposed regulations from the state’s 49 licensing boards must pass an independent review tasked with rooting out economic protectionism. IJ also worked on lowering regulatory burdens and eliminating criminal penalties from scores of occupational licensing laws. Referencing the Patel standard, Governor Abbott recently ordered all state agencies to review and overhaul their licensing requirements, adding instructions to trim regulatory barriers and education requirements.

This Patel ripple effect has had an immediate and transformative impact on entrepreneurs in the Lone Star State. It also demonstrates that IJ victories reach beyond the courtroom and change the way that politicians and regulators alike approach restrictions on productive enterprise.

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