Should government require you to train for and obtain a license for everything, including braiding hair?
The Rutherford Institute is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a Missouri law requiring individuals to secure a license in order to braid hair.
Rutherford attorney John Whitehead, who founded the civil liberties law firm, says two black hair-braiders from St. Louis are challenging a law that claims they are engaged in cosmetology.
"It's a natural hair care technique. It involves intricate braiding and locking," Whitehead explains. "But they don't use any chemicals or heat, or any other process, that would be dangerous to persons."
A cosmetology license, meanwhile, requires 1,500 hours of classroom work and testing at an approximate cost of $12,000.
"This is something they already know how to do," he says, "and they are challenging this because they say this is crazy."
But lower courts have rejected their claims, leading Rutherford to appeal to the Supreme Court.
"We're saying that there are certain fundamental rights here that are protected under the Constitution," Whitehead argues, "and irrational occupational licensing requirements, in my opinion, are ways the government just overtaxes you again."
The appeal to the high court comes at the same time that reforming occupational licensing has become a hot-button topic of late, particularly among millennials and advocates for less government who make the same arguments as Whitehead.