Civil Liberties

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


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.