Last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. This was another great win for the Institute for Justice, which described the case in a press release:
The case began in 2008, when TDLR suddenly decided that eyebrow threading—a traditional South Asian practice that uses only cotton thread to remove eyebrow hair—required the same license that conventional cosmetologists need for techniques like waxing, makeup and chemical peels. TDLR issued $2,000 penalties to threaders across the state and ordered them to quit their jobs until they completed coursework in private beauty schools costing between $7,000 and $22,000. None of this coursework is required to address eyebrow threading and the state’s cosmetology examinations do not require any knowledge of threading.
“Today’s decision is crystal clear: The government can’t make you do useless things to keep your job,” said lead attorney Wesley Hottot…. “The Texas Constitution protects everyone’s right to pursue the occupation of their choice without unreasonable government interference. State officials can’t just meddle with people’s ability to go to work and support their families. Regulations must have reasons.”
“I am overjoyed,” said Ash Patel, a plaintiff in the case and the owner of an eyebrow threading business that was forced to close its doors…. “All I ever wanted was a fair chance to pursue my American Dream, … and now I can.”
In addition to being a good result for the parties and for the cause of freedom, the Court's opinion is noteworthy because of the way it deals with the "due course of law" provision of the Texas Constitution. Taken together, the majority's opinion and the various dissents and concurrences provide a fascinating dialogue in which the history and the future of economic rights and their protection under federal and state law are thoroughly discussed.