Tattoos ARE Protected by The Bill of Rights

Our friends in the United States have had a massive breakthrough in the battle to establish tattooing as a legitimate form of expression, as a panel of three judges agreed that Hermosa Beach’s ban on tattooing was unconstitutional and that tattooing is protected by the First Amendment. The outcome? The city was forced to renege on its ban and must now allow tattooing in some of the zoned business areas of Hermosa Beach.

Let’s have a little back story to this announcement…

Having attempted to receive permission for a tattoo studio and being subsequently  turned down in 2007, Johnny Anderson set about suing the city of Hermosa Beach on the grounds that tattooing should be considered a form of expression, but in 2008 a federal judge ruled that tattoos are “not sufficiently imbued with elements of communication” to fall under the protection of the First Amendment and therefore was not protected speech. However, Johnny’s resolve saw him take his case on to an appeal panel who on September 9th 2010 decreed that, “Tattooing is a process like writing words down or drawing a picture except that it is performed on a person’s skin,” and thus is protected because a tattoo conveys a message in form or another. The panel went on to say, “The principal difference between a tattoo and, for example, a pen-and-ink drawing, is that a tattoo is engrafted [sic] onto a person’s skin rather than drawn on paper. This distinction has no significance in terms of the constitutional protection afforded the tattoo; a form of speech does not lose First Amendment protection based on the kind of surface it is applied to.”

It’ll be interesting to see if this sets a precedent and whether or not the city attempt to appeal this decision, but it’s a wonderful step in the right direction for tattoo art.

Thanks to Los Angeles Times and Needles and Sins for reference on this installment.

Published in: on 09/13/2010 at 11:57 am  Leave a Comment  

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