In Virginia, you can teach anyone anything—except how to earn an honest living.
Anyone in Virginia can do yoga, and anyone can teach yoga. But, incredibly, it is illegal to teach people to teach yoga. Yoga-teacher training is just the latest target of vocational school licensing laws that require countless entrepreneurs to ask the governments permission before opening their mouths.
Vocational-school licensing burdens both economic liberty and freedom of speech. The cost of compliance is typically thousands of dollars and over a week of full-time administrative work. For owners of small schools, these costs can make the difference between viability and closing down.
Vocational-school laws arent just bad policy—theyre unconstitutional. The First Amendment protects the right of individuals to decide for themselves what is worth saying and who is worth listening to. States cant require writers to get permission before publishing a book, nor can they force filmmakers to seek permission before making and selling a movie. Similarly, it is unconstitutional for state governments to demand that speakers ask the governments permission before lecturing to a room of willing listeners, regardless of whether the subject is how to do something useful.
This case seeks to vindicate the right of all Virginians to speak and earn an honest living. That is why, on December 1, 2009, yoga-teacher trainers Julia Kalish, Suzanne Leitner-Wise, and Beverly Brown teamed up with the Institute for Justice to challenge the constitutionality of Virginias vocational-school law as applied to yoga-teacher trainers.
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