Bob Smith, founder of the Founder of Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School and member of the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame
The Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School has prevailed in a years-long constitutional fight against the state of California, the American Farriers Journal revealed. The state’s legislature repealed a law that required students without a high school diploma to complete an entrance exam before enrolling in a private postsecondary institution, essentially making it illegal to teach vocational job skills to students without that diploma.
PCHS owner Bob Smith, a member of the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame, filed a lawsuit against the state of California in 2017 when the law required him to turn down the enrollment of prospective student Esteban Narez. Narez did not complete high school after suffering a tear in the medial collateral ligament of his knee, and had since been employed at a seven-days-a-week job at a horse farm.
Narez attempted to enroll in PCHS, since farriers are able to make more money than farm hands, but Smith was forced to turn down his application.
“It’s legal in California for Esteban to try shoeing a horse on his own, but it’s illegal for PCHS to teach Esteban how to horseshoe,” explained Keith Diggs, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represented Esteban and PCHS. “Teaching and learning are protected by the First Amendment, and that doesn’t change just because Esteban wants to pay PCHS to teach him.”
UCLA School of Law Professor Eugene Volokh filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief supporting Smith and PCHS on the grounds of constitutional free speech.
“For many vocations, including horseshoeing, a high school education and test-taking ability are not required for effective performance,” Volokh wrote. “Indeed, these are among the vocations that may often earn the best living for people without high school diplomas. And rough proxies for supposedly fraudulent speech that risk chilling free speech cannot pass the strict scrutiny required for content-based speech restrictions.”
On June 10, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision that California likely violated Bob Smith’s constitutional rights by prohibiting him from teaching students how to shoe horses.
The repeal of the law came on Sept. 28, 2021.
“These changes will permit students without a high school diploma or the equivalent to enroll in private post-secondary institutions without having to complete the admissions prerequisite of passing an alternate entrance examination,” according to the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). “As a result of the changes, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, a student who is otherwise qualified and has a reasonable prospect of completing an instructional program, but lacks a high school diploma or the equivalent, will no longer have to pass an ‘ability-to-benefit’ examination in order to enroll in the program.”
“Our trade organizations can have educational requirements, as they are private industry,” Smith told the AFJ. “In a free society, each individual should have the right to try and succeed or try and fail, using their own money and their own time without government interference.”
Read more at the American Farriers Journal.
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