The Guild-ed Age
Texas Supremes Strike Blow Against Licensing

Good news from Texas: in a victory against crony capitalism, the state’s Supreme Court recently struck down a licensing requirement. We’re a bit late to this news, but in case you missed it, here’s Eugene Volokh at The Washington Post explaining the case:

Here’s what happened in this case: The plaintiffs practice “eyebrow threading,” which is apparently a technique for shaping eyebrows and removing eyebrow hair using a cotton thread. Since 2011, Texas has required them to get a cosmetology license, just as it requires for other cosmetologists; and that requires 750 hours of training, of which at least 320 hours — by the state’s own concession — “are not related to activities threaders actually perform.”

In a 5-4 ruling, the court ruled against the cosmetology license requirement for eyebrow threaders on the grounds that it “is not just unreasonable or harsh, but it is so oppressive that it violates” the Texas State Constitution.

Volokh explains that courts have generally given legislatures and administrative agencies very broad leeway to enact economic regulations like this one. However, the court found that the Texas Constitution protects a basic right to economic liberty and decided to apply a higher level of scrutiny.

Unlike our friends at The Volokh Conspiracy, we at Via Meadia are not legal experts, so we won’t comment on the constitutional merits of the Texas decision. From a policy perspective, however, we are heartened by developments that allow entrepreneurs, like the plaintiff in this case, to practice their trade without burdensome and unnecessary regulatory interference.

Too often, licensing rules are nothing more than a mechanism for the dominant players in an industry to shield themselves from competition—suppressing jobs (especially for the poor or undercapitalized), raising prices, and stifling creativity along the way. We are glad to see this Texas regulation come down, and hope that others will follow.

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