A Federal Court in Utah struck down a Utah law requiring those engaged in the art of African hair braiding to earn a cosmetology license. The Institute of Justice, a libertarian public interest law suit, filed the case.
The Honorable David Sam of U.S District Court for the District of Utah held that: “Utah’s cosmetology/barbering licensing scheme is so disconnected from the practice of African hairbraiding, much less from whatever minimal threats to public health and safety are connected to braiding, that to premise Jestina’s right to earn a living by braiding hair on that scheme is wholly irrational and a violation of her constitutionally protected rights.”
North Carolina passed a similar statute requiring a cosmetology license for engaging in the work of African hair braiding in 2011. North Carolina’s cosmetology license requires over 350 days of education and experience according to a recent study done by the Institute of Justice. The training required for the license generally has very little relevance to the skills required for traditional African hair braiding, an art which has over a thousand year history. The case will not affect North Carolina’s law, but may pave the way for a similar challenge in North Carolina.