Mary Jackson, a twenty-eight-year lactation consultant veteran, saw her ability to pursue her passion and her livelihood slip away with the passing of the Georgia Lactation Consultant Practice Act (Act) in 2016. Under the Act, the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certification is required by the state of Georgia in order to be considered a licensed lactation consultant. Due to her lack of an IBCLC certification, Jackson, a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), cannot legally perform her job, where she provides crucial lactation support to families and mothers at Grady Memorial Hospital. This Act is one of many the Georgia General Assembly passed over the years in an attempt to expand regulations on occupational licensing in Georgia. However, instead, this Act detrimentally dampened the right of Georgians to pursue the career path of their choosing in lactation care and services.
The battle between the police powers of the State and the right of citizens to freely choose their profession has been a conflict ranging over many centuries with roots in the authorities and rights granted by both the U.S. Constitution as well as the Georgia Constitution. This battle has taken a modern approach as courts now seek to address whether the police powers granted to the State outweigh the constitutional rights of Georgians to pursue the occupation of their choice and to receive equal treatment along with those who fall into the same class. The Georgia Supreme Court delved into this constitutional dilemma once again in Jackson v. Raffensperger, when it addressed whether the Georgia Lactation Consultant Practice Act violated the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Georgia Constitution. Relying on precedent, the court reaffirmed Georgians, specifically CLCs like Jackson, that their passion will not go to waste because they have the unwavering right to pursue a career in the occupation of their choosing free from unreasonable government interference. Likewise, the court reaffirmed the right of CLCs to be treated similarly to those with an IBCLC certification.
Laney Ivey, Casenote, State-Mandated Occupational Licenses, Harmful or Helpful? A Look at the Due Process and Equal Protection Principles Surrounding the Constitutionality of Occupational Licensing Regulations, 72 Mercer L. Rev. 693 (2021).