Arif Panju joined the Institute for Justice in 2012 and is the managing attorney for IJ’s Texas office. He litigates economic liberty, First Amendment, property rights, school choice, and other constitutional cases in federal and state courts.
Currently, Arif is counsel for three craft breweries challenging a Texas law that strips breweries of their right to negotiate the sale of their distribution rights, and instead forces them to surrender those rights to distributors without compensation. He is also representing three Charleston tour guides in a First Amendment challenge to the city’s tour-guide testing and licensing scheme. Arif also represents two Louisville food truck entrepreneurs challenging a law that bans food trucks from operating within 150 feet of every restaurant in the city that sells similar food.
Arif litigated Brantley v. Kuntz, a successful 14th Amendment economic liberty challenge to Texas laws that forced African hair braiders to open large, fully-equipped barber colleges before legally teaching aspiring braiders. Following the victory, he spearheaded the legislative effort that deregulated the practice of African hair braiding in Texas. In Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, Arif helped represent a group of eyebrow threaders who were put out of work when the state began enforcing cosmetology licensing laws against them. In a landmark victory, the Texas Supreme Court declared the laws unconstitutional and announced a new test for reviewing economic regulations under the Texas Constitution.
In the area of school choice, Arif helped represent six parents in the successful defense of the Alabama Accountability Act. Magee v. Boyd was a resounding victory in the Alabama Supreme Court for parents, students, and educational choice.
Arif’s work on constitutional law at IJ has been featured in many outlets including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, Austin American-Statesman, Houston Chronicle, and Texas Lawyer. Arif sits on the board of directors for the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, serves in the leadership for the Federalist Society’s Austin Lawyers Chapter, and founded 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.