Citizens of the commonwealth’s capitol city may recall how they swelled with pride to learn last year that Richmond residents are among the most-tattooed folks in the country.
A survey reported by MSNBC said Richmond, at number three the “most surprising” entry in a top-10 tattoos list of cities, averages about 14.5 tattoo shops per 100,000 people.
In the latest update in our continuing coverage of tattoo-related litigation, we report that the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that tattoo artists enjoy First Amendment protection in plying their trade. The ruling comes in a zoning dispute between the city of Mesa and a couple who wanted to open a tattoo parlor.
When the city denied a permit, tattoo artists Ryan and Laetitia Coleman sued under § 1983, alleging a violation of their First Amendment rights. A state trial court dismissed the case, saying the permit denial was “reasonable and rational” land use regulation.
The Arizona Supreme Court said a “tattoo involves expressive elements beyond those present in ‘a pen-and-ink’ drawing, inasmuch as a tattoo reflects not only the work of the tattoo artist but also the self-expression of the person displaying the tattoo’s relatively permanent image.”
Tattooing may be subject to reasonable time, place, and manner regulations, but the Colemans had stated a First Amendment claim based on denial of their application, the high court said in Coleman v. City of Mesa.