Minneapolis—In a victory for African hairbraiders, the newly formed Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter this week stayed its lawsuit against the State of Minnesota over cosmetology licensing laws that had required hairbraiders to complete 1,550 hours of cosmetology training that can cost up to $14,500 in tuition. Under the terms of the agreement with the State, the Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter will postpone its litigation while the Minnesota Board of Barber and Cosmetologist Examiners changes its rules to free braiders from the State’s licensing requirements. The Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter can re-initiate litigation if the Board fails to enact the agreed-upon exemptions by April 20, 2006.
“This is the best news for braiding since I opened up my store in 1998,” 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.
As part of a 32-page court order approved by the court this week, the Board of Barber and Cosmetologist Examiners agreed to publish administrative rules that exempt braiders from all licensing requirements.
“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. Today I am free to do what I love.”
This was the first lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter (IJ-MN), the public interest law firm that advances economic liberty, private property rights, free speech and school choice. IJ-MN opened its doors on April 20.
“This is a victory for those who believe that the Constitution protects a person’s right to earn an honest living,” said Lee McGrath, IJ-MN’s executive director. “With this case, we advanced economic liberty—the idea that every American has a right to pursue an occupation free from arbitrary government interference.”
“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,” noted IJ Staff Attorney Nick Dranias.