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Four Years After Being Thrown in Jail for Opening Salon During COVID Lockdown, Texas

“The best revenge is massive success,” a quote often attributed to the iconic singer Frank Sinatra.

For Shelley Luther, who risked it all to keep her business operating during the COVID-19 lockdowns, achieving success by reforming the very bureaucratic system that almost broke her could represent the greatest vindication after her many trials.

Luther defeated incumbent State Rep. Reggie Smith, earning 53.42 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary election, according to KRQX.


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Luther, a former Dallas salon owner, gained national attention for defying COVID-19 shutdown orders in 2020.

What began as an act of civil disobedience opposing COVID-19 business closure orders turned into a weeks-long legal saga that ultimately prompted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to amend his pandemic executive orders.

Luther reopened her salon, Salon à la Mode, on April 24, 2020, in violation of Dallas County’s stay-at-home mandates aimed at curbing the coronavirus outbreak. Despite being issued a citation and a cease-and-desist letter, she kept the salon operating, KRQX reported.

Another KRQX report stated that instead of complying, Luther tore up the citation onstage at a rowdy “Open Texas” rally in front of Frisco City Hall.

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The City of Dallas then obtained a temporary restraining order directing Luther to close, but again, she refused to comply. At a hearing, State District Judge Eric Moyé found Luther in criminal contempt of court and sentenced her to seven days in jail along with fines.

Luther’s jailing sparked an immediate backlash from state Republican leaders who decried the punishment as excessive overreach during the public health crisis. Attorney General Ken Paxton stated the judge should free her.

Two days later, Abbott announced he was modifying his executive orders to remove confinement as an available penalty for violations of the pandemic business restrictions he had imposed.

“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 stated.

Luther was released from jail early by the Texas Supreme Court.


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Other lawmakers also joined in support of Luther. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz went to Salon à la Mode in Dallas, Texas, to support her business.

But Shelley’s Tuesday victory was still a ways away.

In 2022, Luther came up short in her challenge against incumbent Rep. Reggie Smith for the same seat and also lost a bid for a state Senate seat, according to KXII.

However, Luther flipped the script this week by defeating Smith outright in their primary rematch.

The former Dallas salon owner garnered enough voter support to oust the sitting representative.

Shelley Luther’s triumph in the Republican primary takes on even greater significance given the life-threatening health scare she overcame just months prior. In April 2023, Luther suffered a brain aneurysm so severe that only 1 percent of patients survive that type of rupture, KRQX reported.

Her victory at the polls came after an almost month-long hospitalization and grueling recovery period. On social media, an appreciative Luther acknowledged the outpouring of support that buoyed her spirits during her difficult convalescence.

“I have a long way to go to fully recover, but feeling very blessed,” she wrote on Facebook, thanking well-wishers for their “prayers, messages, cards and reaching out.” Luther expressed feeling fortunate to have beaten the low odds, adding, “Apparently, God chose me to be the 1% to survive this specific brain aneurysm.”

Her brush with mortality also imbued Luther with a sense of renewed purpose. “Although I feel lucky, I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to be obedient and live with gratitude,” her message continued.

Having experienced firsthand the impacts of government mandates on small businesses, Luther’s defiant stance of refusing to shut down transformed her into an advocate for small businesses during the pandemic’s darkest days.

Now that she has secured the Republican nomination, Luther can apply that mindset and her never-say-die attitude toward her upcoming general election campaign for the state House seat and, hopefully, be as influential a voice for the people within the government as she has been from the outside.

The Republican Party could definitely use more firebrands like her.

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Read More: Four Years After Being Thrown in Jail for Opening Salon During COVID Lockdown, Texas

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