Court Watch - POSTED: 2010/09/10 09:16
A federal appeals court struck down a city ban on tattoo parlors Thursday, ruling the artistic expression is entitled to free speech protection under the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Southern California city of Hermosa Beach to allow tattoo parlors to operate.
The city had argued the operations threaten public health and attract an unsavory clientele prone to crime.
Several state courts and federal trial courts have upheld similar bans in other cities across the country.
However, the ruling Thursday was the first by a federal appeals court, meaning such bans are now unconstitutional in the nine western states that must comply with 9th Circuit rulings.
Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, writing for the unanimous three-judge 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 court said the ban was an unconstitutional overreaction to health concerns that can be addressed through regulations to ensure sanitation.