Texas Eyebrow Threading

Patel v. TX Department of Licensing and Regulation
Hanging by a Thread: Defending Economic Liberty in Texas

Ash Patel shouldn't need to close his business to take 1,500 hours of beauty school classes that don't even teach threading. 

threading vid graphic
Video: Hanging by a thread: defending economic liberty in Texas

After the Institute for Justice's landmark victory before the Texas Supreme Court, eyebrow threaders in Texas are free to practice their trade without obtaining a useless state cosmetology license.

This case began in 2009, when the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) demanded that eyebrow threaders obtain expensive and irrelevant licenses in Western-style cosmetology. TDLR insisted that threaders (some of them with 20 years of experience) stop working and pay as much as $9,000 to go to private beauty schools for 750 hours. But private beauty schools do not spend even a minute teaching threading. Threaders had to quit their jobs and spend 750 hours learning every beauty technique except the one they actually use in their jobs. Threaders were also required to pass two cosmetology exams, neither of which tests threading. Still, inspectors imposed $2,000 fines on threaders who did not immediately stop working and obtain the state's useless license. This scheme certainly protected licensed cosmetologists from honest competition, but it did nothing to help consumers or small businesses.

Happily, the Texas Supreme Court struck down TDLR's actions.

In a historic opinion, the Supreme Court strongly reaffirmed that Texans have a constitutional right to work in the occupation of their choice without unreasonable government interference. The Supreme Court ruled, by a vote of 6 to 3, that it was unconstitutionally irrational for TDLR to require hundreds of hours of irrelevant training for a simple skill like eyebrow threading. The Supreme Court also made history by parting ways with federal jurisprudence and ruling that Texas courts must weigh both the reasonableness of economic regulations and the burden that those regulations impose on ordinary people.

You can read the Court's opinion, watch the oral argument and learn more about the case below.


Essential Background


Backgrounder: Hanging by a Thread: Texas Eyebrow Threaders Fight Irrational Licensing

Client Video

Client Photos

Case Launch Photos
Latest Release: Texas Supreme Court Strikes Down Useless Eyebrow Threading License (June 26, 2015) Supreme Court of Texas Oral Argument (video)

Launch Release: Texas Eyebrow Threaders File Lawsuit Against State Board (December 8, 2009)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

Download IJ's complaint (PDF)

Petition for Review (PDF)

Brief on the Merits (PDF)

Supreme Court opinion (PDF)

Justice Willett's concurrence (PDF)

Justice Boyd's concurrence (PDF)


Supreme Court Final Order (PDF)


Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit: 


December 8, 2009

Court Filed:


Travis County District Court



Summary judgment for government in January 2011
Judgment for government affirmed in July 2012
Supreme Court reverses and rules in favor of threaders in June 2015

 Current Court: Texas Supreme Court


  Next Key Date:

July 13, 2015—state’s deadline to petition for rehearing

Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: Texas Supreme Court Will Hear Landmark Economic Liberty Case (January 17, 2014)

Report: Bureaucratic Barbed Wire: How Occupational Licensing Fences Out Texas Entrepreneurs

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Article: High court issues final ruling on eyebrow threading Houston Chronicle (August 7, 2015)
Article: Court orders state to stay out of eyebrow threading Houston Chronicle (July 15, 2015)

ArticleVictory for eyebrow threaders in Texas Legal Insurrection (July 14, 2015)

Video: Oral Argument at TX Supreme Court  (February 27, 2014)

Video: IJ's Chip Mellor Discusses Government Mandated Licensing With John Stossel (3 of 3); Stossel (March 26, 2010)

Article: Constitutional Rights Hanging by a Thread Liberty & Law (February 2010)

Article: Beauty procedure inspires lawsuit The Austin American-Statesman (December 9, 2009) 

Video: Hanging by a Thread: Defending Economic Liberty - Press 12/8/09; (December 9, 2009)

Article: Eyebrow Threaders Sue State of Texas KTBC-TV Fox 7 (December 9, 2009) 

Video: Hanging by a Thread: Defending Economic Liberty in Texas; (December 8, 2009)

Article: Law firm sues state on behalf of eyebrow threaders San Antonio Business Journal (December 8, 2009)

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