Texas laws that regulate businesses that teach African hair braiding are unconstitutional and do not advance public health and safety or any other legitimate government interest, a federal judge ruled.
Isis Brantley, a Dallas woman who runs a hair braiding business inside a Dallas community center, sued the state in 2013, saying laws related to her school were unreasonable and unconstitutional.
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State rules required Brantley to convert her small business into a fully equipped barber college, including having at least 10 student workstations that include a chair that reclines and install a sink behind every two workstations.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks in Austin ruled Monday that the regulations excluded Brantley from the market "absent 'a rational connection with ... fitness or capacity to engage in' hair braiding instruction."
Sparks wrote that he found the various rules requiring hair braiding schools to become fully equipped barber colleges "irrational," citing as one example that licensed braiding salons don't need sinks because washing hair is not involved in the braiding process.
"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 statement. "This decision means that I will now be able to teach the next generation of African hair braiders at my own school."
Susan Stanford, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, said in a statement that her agency and Brantley had their day in court and her agency "respects Judge Sparks' decision."