Tennessee Supreme Court Snips High School Diploma Requirement From Barber Licensing
When the state of Tennessee told Elias Zarate in 2017 that he could no longer be a barber, it wasn’t because he’d accidentally hurt a customer or because he gave bad haircuts.
It was simply because he didn’t have a high school diploma.
Zarate had dropped out of high school to take care of his orphaned younger siblings and eventually landed a job as a barber in Memphis, even though he wasn’t licensed. When the state’s barbering cops busted Zarate for working without a permission slip from the proper bureaucratic authorities, he tried to get the proper license, only to discover that before he could pursue a career doing the thing he was already doing, he’d first have to backtrack and finish high school.
That didn’t make much sense to Zarate, and last week the Tennessee Supreme Court confirmed as much. In an order granting summary judgment in favor of Zarate, the court declared Tennessee’s requirement that barbers have at least a high school education “unconstitutional, unlawful, and unenforceable,” and imposed a permanent injunction against its enforcement.
“The government shouldn’t stand between Elias and the career he loved just because he didn’t graduate high school,” says Braden Boucek, vice president of legal affairs for the Beacon Center of Tennessee, the free market nonprofit that backed Zarate’s legal challenge. “If emergency personnel don’t need to graduate high school to restart the heart of a person who stopped breathing, then you can cut hair without a high school deg
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