A Texas hair salon owner who became a national symbol of the debate over ongoing coronavirus-related lockdowns has been released from jail after the state’s Supreme Court intervened, the Washington Examiner reports.
Reports indicate Shelley Luther left jail on Thursday following what was originally a week-long sentence imposed at a hearing related to her violation of a stay-at-home order in effect.
“I am not going to shut the salon”
Judge Eric Moye found Luther in contempt after she refused to apologize for her “selfish” behavior in keeping her business as Texas responded to the ongoing pandemic, according to a local CBS affiliate. She responded that providing for her family and allowing her employees to work was not selfish.
“I have hairstylists that are going hungry because they would rather feed their kids,” Luther said, according to Fox. “So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision. But I am not going to shut the salon.”
In addition to the jail sentence, Luther received a fine of $7,000. The case sparked debate across the state and beyond as state GOP leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, called for her release.
“Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen,” Abbott said in a statement. “That is why I’m modifying my executive order to ensure confinement is not a punishment for violating an order.”
According to The Hill, Luther also received the support of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, who volunteered to serve the sentence under house arrest in her stead and pay her fine. Salons across the state were allowed to reopen just one day after Luther was released from custody.
“The last thing I was going to do”
Reports show she could have avoided jail time at the Tuesday hearing if she had admitted wrongdoing in response to Moye’s prompt from the bench. In a subsequent interview with Fox News, however, Luther said she could not bring herself to put such an apology on the record.
“That was the last thing I was going to do, honestly,” she said.
When Abbott visited the White House on Thursday, President Donald Trump weighed in on the decision.
“Good,” he told the governor upon hearing that Luther was free, according to CBS.
Many would agree with Trump’s assessment, though critics of this judge’s decision might still find it frustrating such a sentence was imposed in the first place.