KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — A federal appeals court has overturned a ruling barring a Virginia man from opening a tattoo shop in Key West.
In a 14-page decision released last week, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the city lacked evidence in arguing that adding tattoo shops would hurt tourism.
The Key West Citizen (http://bit.ly/1R73FIK ) reports the judges also found city officials misused tattoo-referencing lyrics in Jimmy Buffett's song "Margaritaville."
In a deposition and in arguments before the district court, city officials twice referenced the song to support their argument that inebriated tourists would be more likely to get tattoos and then regret getting tattoos if more tattoo shops were open in Key West's historic district.
The appeals court judges wrote in a footnote that the singer in "Margaritaville" considers his own tattoo "a real beauty" and seems far from embarrassed about it.
The appeals court ruled that U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez erred in his 2014 ruling that the city did not violate Brad Buehrle's First and 14th Amendment rights.
Buehrle, who operates a tattoo shop in Richmond, Virginia, had asked the city to issue a permit allowing him to open a commercial tattoo business in a historic stretch of Duval Street.
The judges said in their ruling that the city failed to prove that Buehrle's proposed tattoo shop would erode the historic district's "character and fabric."
Buehrle's attorney, Wayne LaRue Smith, said that he "doesn't believe for a minute that there's any adverse effects even remotely possible from allowing as many tattoo establishments as the market will support."
Tattoo parlors were banned within Key West city limits until 2007, when the city amended zoning rules to allow a limited number of them.
According to the appeals court ruling, the city feared that "rash tourists will obtain regrettable tattoos, leading to negative association with Key West."
Information from: The Key West (Fla.) Citizen, http://www.keysnews.com