May It Please The Court

RSS Feeds
MIPTC Author
About J. Craig Williams

May It Please The Court
by Leonard Rivkin
Barnes & Noble CLE Books

Weblog Comments
Return to the Weblog

Quote of the Day - Don't know the reason, stayed here all season, with nothing to show but this brand-new tattoo. But it's a real beauty, a Mexican cutie. How it got it here, I haven't a clue. - Jimmy Buffett
Claim Your Profile on Avvo

Are Tattoos A Constitutionally Protected Form Of Self-expression?

Johnny Anderson can't practice his chosen profession of applying tattoos in Hermosa Beach, California because the City has outlawed tattoo parlors.  In this federal court complaint, his lawyer says, "a person may wear his heart on his sleeve, and the government may not prevent him from wearing it on his arm," despite a City Ordinance to the contrary.  Like all red-blooded Americans, he sued.

The Complaint starts out like a novel, citing tattoos found on the Alpine "Iceman," Egyptian and Nubian mummies and "the Greeks, ancient Germans, Gauls, Thracians and ancient Britons."  Wow.  I never knew tattoos had such a colorful history.

Anderson fast forwards this history to the U.S. Constitution and claims tattooing is a protected form of self-expression under the First Amendment, which the City of Hermosa Beach can't abridge under the Fourteenth Amendment, as "communicative, artistic and decorative."  Art, in a manner of speaking.  The federal judge will decide this one without a jury since it's a question of law, not fact.

The Complaint claims some twenty percent of us have tattoos, supposedly including a tiger on former Secretary of State George Schultz's backside.  I wonder how his lawyer will get that one into evidence

Tattoos were once fashionable among Egyptian women, and have been used by tribes, including the present-day Maori in New Zealand, who wear full-face tribal tattoos.  Tattoos have a dark side, too.  Nazi prisoners had them on their arms, and after World War II, they became almost solely the province of tawdry waterfront locations, sailors and disreputable women, sometimes referred to as "tramp stamps," and now largely the bane of parents.

Unless, of course, you already have one, you rebel.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 01:02 Comments (0)


No comments added yet. Be the first to comment on this entry!
Add your Comments
You may also leave audio comments by calling our audio comment line at 206-338-3088. Leave us a message and we'll post it here.

Please do not include any HTML or URLs in the comment field. If included, your comment will not be accepted.
*Indicates required fields
Character Count: