Appeals Court Ends Tattoo Parlor Ban in Calif. City
September 10, 2010
On Thursday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a southern California city's ban on tattoo parlors. Tattooing is a form of artistic expression and is thus entitled to free speech protection under the U.S. Constitution, the three-judge panel ruled unanimously.
In 2007, Johnny Anderson sued the city after it refused to let him relocate his Yer Cheat'n Heart Tattoo studio from Gardena to Hermosa Beach, which is closer to his home and family. Anderson said Hermosa Beach officials have "an outdated notion that only sailors and fallen women get tattoos, which isn't the case. Everybody gets a tattoo these days."
Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, writing for the panel, called the city's ban "substantially broader than necessary to achieve the city's significant health and safety interests and because it entirely forecloses a unique and important method of expression." The ban represents an unconstitutional overreaction to health concerns that can be addressed through regulations, the court said.
The U.S. Supreme Court is unlikely to hear the case, said Jesse Choper, a free speech expert and law professor at the University of California-Berkeley, who noted that Bybee is a politically conservative judge.
09.09.2010; Paul Elias
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