Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter Celebrates Freedom for Hairbraiders While Exposing the Waste and Injustice of the Regulatory State

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · May 16, 2006

Minneapolis—In the ongoing battle in Minnesota over the right to earn an honest living, an important victory has just been secured. On May 15, the Minnesota Board of Barber and Cosmetologist Examiners officially changed its rules to formally exempt hairbraiders from State licensing requirements. The Board’s action concludes the constitutional lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter (IJ-MN) on behalf of African hairbraiders Lillian Awan Anderson, Saleemah Salahud-Din Shabazz and Egayehu Beyene Asres last year.

“This is excellent news for all entrepreneurs in Minnesota,” 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.

Anderson v. Board of Barber and Cosmetology Examiners was resolved by court order on June 10, 2005, less than two months after it was filed. The Board was permanently enjoined from enforcing its cosmetology licensing regime against hairbraiders and it was also required to engage in rule-making to exempt hairbraiders from regulation.

“It never made sense that the Board required braiders to take 10 months of classes that were completely unrelated to braiding,” said plaintiff Egayehu Beyene Asres, who works at the Braid Factory in South Minneapolis. “I never considered going to cosmetology school because not one minute of the 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.”

The Board’s adoption of rules broadly exempting hairbraiders from regulation could not have come at a better time. It should provide hairbraiders with protection from several bills pending in the State Legislature (HF4070, HF3536, SF3705, SF3104) that seek to authorize the Board to re-regulate hairbraiders. And, when it comes to defending their newfound freedom, hairbraiders now have the intellectual ammunition they will need—thanks to IJ-MN’s first “barrier study,” which exposes the shocking truth about Minnesota’s occupational licensing laws.

Barrier Study Released

“Minnesota is one of the most heavily regulated states in the nation,” said Lee McGrath, executive director of the Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter. “State and city governments have created enormous barriers that keep Minnesotans from working in the fields of their choice.”

IJ-MN’s first study, The Land of 10,000 Lakes Drowns Entrepreneurs in Regulations, reveals that government-imposed barriers to honest enterprise block opportunities for Minnesotans and create unearned profits that are protected by the government from competition.

“It shouldn’t be surprising that occupational regulation doesn’t work—when was the last time a government-imposed cartel provided good and innovative service?” said Nick Dranias, a staff attorney with IJ-MN. “The free market works because it gives consumers—rather than politically powerful companies or bureaucrats—control over choices. By contrast, members of a licensed profession receive unearned profits from the exclusion of competitors regardless of the quality of their work.”

It is the trend for government power to grow and for freedom to shrink. The Institute for Justice is working to reverse that trend. First, by litigating; second, by publishing barrier studies that expose the waste and injustice of the regulatory state.

Opened in 2005, the Minnesota Chapter is one of three state chapters of the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm founded in 1991 to advance free speech, property rights, educational choice and economic liberty. Headquartered in Arlington, Va., the Institute for Justice has a long record of success in representing entrepreneurial Davids against governmental Goliaths.

Minnesota now joins Arizona, California, Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Washington State and the District of Columbia in recognizing the distinction between hairbraiding and cosmetology. In addition to opening hairbraiding markets throughout the nation, IJ led the effort to strike down Tennessee’s casket sales licensing scheme as unconstitutional. This marked the first federal appeals court victory for economic liberty since the New Deal. Its litigation also led the U.S. Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional New York State laws that barred the interstate direct shipment of wine to New York consumers. It opened taxicab markets in Denver, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, as well as the limousine market in Las Vegas, and removed the New York City Council’s veto over new dollar van operators.

Journalists may download The Land of 10,000 Lakes Drowns Entrepreneurs in Regulations at here.