Tattoos and Piercings and the 1st Amendment

We here at Iron Brush Tattoo were very active in legislation involving tattooing and body piercing. We helped enact laws and write code in the State of Nebraska as well as Illinois. With the growing number of people choosing to modify their bodies, more and more legal issues have come to light. From time to time we'd like to point out some ongoing as well as concluding legal matters involving body art.

This article is from an AP press release involving Hermosa Beach, California. They were recently (2007) taken to court for banning a tattoo parlor from opening up.  Shop owner Johnny Anderson saw this as a clear violation of his 1st Amendment rights. The City of Hermosa Beach claimed that"operations threaten public health and attract an unsavory clientele prone to crime."  In response,  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."

Read the article here.

And the complete ruling here.

This second one is about a young lady who feels her rights are being violated at Clayton High School (outside of Raleigh, North Carolina). The school has suspended the girl twice for failing to remove her nose jewelry.  "The Johnston County schools dress code policy prohibits several types of facial jewelry but does allow officials to make accommodations for sincerely held religious beliefs." The student and her mother "were told that if we were Hindu, or she were Muslim, it would be different." She feels that as a member of the Church of Body Modification, it is her right to wear her body piercing to school.  It would appear that because the Church of Body Modification is not widely known, or that because school officials don't hold similar beliefs, this student is being discriminated against.

Read the full article article here.