Dale Smith has been cutting hair for over 50 years. The Oregon barber is well-known in his hometown for walk-in appointments and $8 cuts — at least, until he got shut down by bureaucrats from Oregon’s Board of Cosmetology.
Dale’s crime? He forgot to renew the barber license he earned 54 years ago.
The bureaucrats are saying that in order for Dale to return to work, he has to pass a 75-question examination, similar to the one he passed in 1957. Further, he has to demonstrate to their satisfaction that he still knows how to cut hair:
Dale had to post a sign in his window saying that he was closed until further notice. He doesn’t want to cut through all the red tape and isn’t sure what he’ll do next.
As Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Clark Neily explains in the video above:
Americans have a constitutional right to earn a living in the occupation of their choice, free from unreasonable government interference. What happened to this man is the very definition of unreasonable. A properly engaged judiciary is one that takes rights seriously, including the right to earn a living. And it says to government officials, you have to treat people reasonably. You have to respect their constitutional right to earn a living.
Of course, Dale is not alone. In November, IJ economic liberty expert Paul Sherman spoke about armed government agents raiding barbershops and handcuffing barbers in front of their clients. Big Government readers know that occupational licensing abuse is rampant in America.
The Institute for Justice recently filed suit in Louisiana on behalf of monks threatened with crippling fines and jail for selling caskets. We’ve represented entrepreneurs of all stripes that want nothing more than a chance to pursue their American Dream by being able to compete in the marketplace free from arbitrary government regulations.
Such laws proliferate today for one reason: Our nation’s judicial system fails to meaningfully protect the right to earn a living.
IJ enters courtrooms across America determined to vindicate economic liberty. And more often than not, we find that judges are neglecting to perform their core responsibility: Simply put, our country is desperately in need of judges who will judge what the government is actually doing.
That is why the Institute for Justice has established the Center for Judicial Engagement. As Clark Neily puts it:
The Institute for Justice created the Center for Judicial Engagement to educate the public and persuade judges to fully enforce the limits our Constitution places on the government’s exercise of power over our lives . . . . And when we succeed, what you saw in this case – the state of Oregon putting a man out of business who’s been cutting hair for over 50 years – that will never happen again.