Occupational Licensing

Lacking a State-Issued Degree Shouldn't Bar You From Pursuing Vocational Education

The Institute for Justice fights for the right to receive paid training as a farrier without a high school diploma or equivalent.


How could the state help make life even harder for those struggling up the economic ladder? How about making it illegal to professionally train them in a vocation unless they've already successfully gone through the effort of getting a state-approved high-school diploma or equivalent?

If a decision out of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals this week holds up after the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California reconsiders the case, then this particularly punitive and absurd barrier to advancement might be killed.

The fight at the heart of Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School v. Grafilo arose from the world of horseshoeing. This probably isn't the industry of the future, but it's a profession that any free Americans should be able to pay to be trained in.

The suit, in which the libertarian Institute for Justice (I.J.) helped represent the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School (PCHS) and would-be student Esteban Narez (a ranch hand who is used to working with horses), was initially filed in October 2017.

The lawsuit challenges the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009, which in the suit's words "makes it illegal for a horseshoeing school to teach a student without a high-school diploma how to become a farrier." This, the attorneys argue, "violates the freedom of speech of both those who want to teach horseshoeing and those who want to learn it."

In April 2018, the state convinced U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez of the Eastern District of California to toss the suit. Mendez concluded that since the act prohibits not just teaching Narez but charging him professionally for the teaching, the law wasn't really about speech but was just a commercial regulation. Thus, he concluded, the law is "rationally related to the legitimate government interest of protecting students and the public from harm and deception."

The state argues that this rule protects people like Narez by forcing them to demonstrate an "ability to benefit" from the training they pay for. What the state sees as a consumer protection, Narez sees as a waste of his time. As an earlier filing from Narez's side of the case put it, the law tells student that they must

prove to the government's satisfaction that they are capable of understanding their teachers' instruction. When it comes to speech, this sort of paternalism has no place in the American legal landscape.

Somewhat confusingly, you don't need a license or any particular educational background to practice horseshoeing. But you are legally required to have that high school diploma or equivalent if you want someone to train you professionally in the art.

I.J., the horseshoe trainer, and the would-be horseshoe student appealed that first dismissal of their case. This week, as I.J. announced in a press release, "a federal appeals court ruled that the First Amendment protects teachers' right to teach as well as students' right to learn. The three-judge panel's unanimous decision ruled that California likely violated the constitutional rights of Bob Smith, owner of Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School, by prohibiting him from teaching students how to shoe horses regardless of their past educational achievements." Now it's on to the lower court rehearing, where the state will have to make the case that its rules "can survive First Amendment scrutiny."

NEXT: Good Riddance to Cops and Live PD

Occupational Licensing Institute for Justice California Education

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28 responses to “Lacking a State-Issued Degree Shouldn't Bar You From Pursuing Vocational Education

  1. This probably isn’t the industry of the future

    Unless the Green New Deal destroys modernity.

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      1. Does it have anything to do with being a farrier?

        1. Maybe; did you ride in on a horse?

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    2. Modernity is starting to look an awful lot like 1917.

      1. History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.

    3. Lots of people ride horses for recreation and/or sport.

      While it isn’t a growth industry, farriers aren’t going to disappear any time soon either.

      1. cops ride horses this makes farriers evil

  2. Somewhat confusingly, you don’t need a license or any particular educational background to practice horseshoeing. But you are legally required to have that high school diploma or equivalent if you want someone to train you professionally in the art.

    “We must close the horseshoeing practice loophole!”

  3. Isn’t occupational licensing starting to seem a little pedestrian for 2020. I don’t know if you noticed, but we are going to be fighting off a full scale socialist revolt pretty soon.

    1. Not it we institute mandatory licensing for marxist revolutionaries.

      1. To get a Marxist revolutionary license you must have a PHD in political science.

        1. …from Liberty University.

    2. I don’t know if you noticed, but we are going to be fighting off a full scale socialist revolt pretty soon.

      For some value of “we”. The Reason staff has universally supported Antifa and BLM for years, including the rioting, looting and violence.

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  5. No it shouldn’t.
    Keep it up, IJ.

  6. it’s a profession that any free American should be able to pay to be trained in

    So, no one.

  7. ” . . . prove to the government’s satisfaction that they are capable of understanding their teachers’ instruction.”

    From what I remember of CA, a high school education there does not prove that. It cannot prove that they can read or write.

  8. It was amazing to me how the Progressives wrote economic liberty out of the Constitution, and now everybody is abusing the First Amendment to get back a lot of what was thrown out. They just can’t bear to admit that they made a mistake, especially with economic liberty, cuz that would logically need to throwing out minimum wage laws, occupational licensing, rent control, and a whole lot of Big Brother.

    Too bad they can’t bring themselves to be so expansive about the Fourth Amendment, or the Second.

  9. I doubt the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 was written specifically to single out farrier schools but any schools ripping off students by overcharging for substandard education. Well, *private* schools, at any rate, it says that right in the title, doesn’t it? State schools can charge an arm and a leg to churn out functional retards with fake degrees in bullshit and they’re fine with that. If anybody’s getting scammed by a school, might as well make sure it’s a public school doing the scamming.

  10. Occupational Licensing is the boot on the neck of the poor that keeps the poor in from achieving success. It is another example of the insidious nature of government to take away or freedoms.

    If I need to get a horse shoed, I really do not care if the farrier has a high school degree, what I care about is if the farrier is good at their craft.

    There is nothing about a high school diploma, college degree or even a doctorate that will help make a person a good farrier. To become a good farrier you need a good apprenticeship and lots of practice.

    1. Indeed. I have a Master’s degree, and, believe me, you DON’T want me shoeing your horse!

  11. I live close to a horse training complex and farriers do pretty damn good for themselves.

  12. So what are the legal requirements for charging for piano lessons or pottery?

    Meh. Most of this stuff can just go away. Ok perhaps commercial pilot or surgeon and those should be largely industry driven.

  13. Does the California act exempt non-whites and women?

  14. I hope it succeeds. These laws are ridiculous.

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