Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Laws on Hair Braiders

Isis Brantley
Isis Brantley

A federal judge in Texas has ruled that a set of state laws dictating how hair-braiding stylists could gain certification to teach students how to braid hair was unconstitutional, the Associated Press reports.


Isis Brantley, a Dallas hair-braiding salon owner, with the help of the Institute for Justice, filed the federal lawsuit against Texas in 2013. It argued that she was being forced to jump through unnecessary hoops just to receive the state-mandated license. Brantley felt that the requirements were geared toward and created for barbers, and since she is a hair-braiding stylist, the laws should not have applied to her—or they needed to be tweaked for her specific profession.

A 2013 press statement on the Institute for Justice’s website described Brantley’s frustration with the criteria: “This means that Isis must spend 2,250 hours in barber school, pass four exams, and spend thousands of dollars on tuition and a fully-equipped barber college she doesn’t need, all to teach a 35-hour hair-braiding curriculum,” the statement read.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks on Monday seemed to agree with Brantley’s concerns that the requirements for hair-braiding entrepreneurs were superfluous. Sparks ruled that the Texas laws were unconstitutional and “absent” a rational connection with Brantley’s intended marketplace, the Associated Press reports.

“I fought for my economic liberty because I believe there is a lot of hope for young people who seek to earn an honest living,” Brantley said in a press statement. “This decision means that I will now be able to teach the next generation of African hair braiders at my own school.”

Arif Panju, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, also weighed in on the decision. “This ruling is a resounding victory for Isis Brantley and entrepreneurs like her across Texas,” Panju said. “It is unconstitutional to require people to do useless things.”

Read more at the Star-Telegram.