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Tattoos Are Protected By First Amendment, Says AZ Court

Couple that wanted to open tattoo parlor who had their permit denied claimed their rights were being violated

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Tattoos are a form of expression protected by the First Amendment, the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled in an opinion in favor of a couple who sought to open a tattooing business. The decision conflicts with other court decisions that said tattooing was not expressive enough to trigger free-speech review.

In July 2008, Ryan and Laetitia Coleman sought a permit to operate a tattoo parlor in Mesa, Ariz. The city denied the permit request. The Colemans sued in 2010 in state court, contending that officials had violated their free-speech rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the free-speech provision of the Arizona Constitution.