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Protecting Entrepreneurs from Arbitrary Government Decision-Making

Coleman v. Mesa

Case Status

Date Filed

March 6, 2010

Last Step

Victory! The Arizona Supreme Court reinstated the case, ruling that tattooing is free speech protected by the Constitution

Next Step

Case Overview

Does the government have the right to deny business permits because neighbors complain? The Arizona Supreme Court said no in its ruling on the Goldwater Institute’s case, Coleman v. Mesa.

Ryan and Laetitia Coleman followed all the rules the City of Mesa, Arizona set out to qualify for a business permit to open a high-end tattoo studio. But when neighbors complained, the city council denied the permit on a 6-1 vote. The only vote for the Colemans was Mesa Mayor Scott Smith who said there was not a shred of evidence that the business would harm the community.

The Goldwater Institute was proud to team up with the Colemans to ensure that business permit decisions are based on firm rules that apply equally to all and that entrepreneurs aren’t subject to arbitrary decision-making by government officials.

More important, the court ruled that the Colemans’ business is protected by the First Amendment, underscoring the principle that free speech and free enterprise are closely connected.

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