CINDY VONG AND LA VIE, LLC, v. DONNA AUNE, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ARIZONA BOARD OF COSMETOLOGY.
Brief of Amici Curiae (March 3, 2015)
Civitas attorney Elliot Engstrom joined with Ilya Shapiro, Cato’s Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, and Julio Colomba, legal associate at the Cato Institute, in asking the United States Supreme Court to clarify the extent to which lower courts may consider the illegitimate motives of licensing boards when evaluating constitutional claims.
The case centers on Cindy Vong, a Vietnamese immigrant and American citizen who has operated a nail salon in Gilbert, Ariz. since 2006. In 2008, she began offering a foot treatment using small Garra Rufa fish to exfoliate dead skin from the feet. The treatment was very popular with Vong’s clientele, and not a single complaint was ever filed against her. However, the Arizona Board of Cosmetology did not approve, and threatened possible civil and criminal penalties if Ms. Vong did not shut down her spa fish business — this despite the fact that the board has yet to present any evidence of even a remote risk of harm.
In November of 2009, Goldwater Institute attorneys Clint Bolick and Christina Sandefur filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Cosmetology in state court, alleging multiple violations of Ms. Vong’s constitutional rights. The Arizona state courts sided with the board, leading the Goldwater Institute to petition the United States Supreme Court.