Does a beauty parlor have a civil right to provide customers with fish-nibbling of their feet? Does a state regulatory board (guild) have the right to prohibit fish-nibbling on sanitation and sterilization grounds? Does civil rights law cover a salon owner’s right to provide foot fish-nibbling? Or does civil rights law protect consumers from practices deemed unsanitary and unsterilized by a state regulatory board (guild)?

Since fish foot-nibbling isn’t actually mentioned in the United States Constitution, is there a penumbra of fish-nibbling rights that extends, say, from the right to pursue happiness? Or the right to vote? Or the right of free speech? Can I speak more freely if fish have nibbled my feet, leaving them smooth and lovely to the touch? Do rough feet inhibit my freedom of religion?

Is there an originalist position on fish foot-nibbling?

Cindy Vong, owner of LaVie Nails & Spa in Gilbert, Ariz., filed the suit earlier this week, alleging the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology was all wet when it advised her that fish pedicures “constitute a violation of the Board’s statutes and rules,” including those requiring sterilization of salon “tools.”

Fish pedicure customers immerse their feet in a tank of warm water filled with toothless, toe-size carp. The sucking action of the fish removes dead skin from the customer’s feet, purportedly leaving them smooth and shiny.

MMMM, smooth, shiny feet. Just what Marbury v. Madison ordered! I wonder: would Bush v Gore have been differently decided if the justices had had their feet fish-nibbled? Or would fish feet-nibbling make a difference as the justices consider whether the Hillary Clinton movie is protected or purchased corporate speech?

Do you want to think about fish nibbling on Scalito’s little piggies? Does the thought of John Roberts’ no-doubt-pedicured toesies being fish-nibbled send you into ecstasy? Or is that not a pleasant late-Sunday evening thought?

“This is a civil rights lawsuit designed to vindicate the rights of Plaintiffs Cindy Vong and LaVie LLC to pursue a legitimate business in the face of Defendants’ arbitrary, oppressive, discriminatory, and unlawful actions that prevented her from doing so,” Vong says in her complaint.

The Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think-tank which is representing Vong, is pitching the case as one that “affects the economic liberty of every American. Too many small businesses have been destroyed by overzealous regulation.” The board, it says, acted more to protect cosmetologists from competiton than the public from health risks.

Since “economic liberty” is the catchphrase of the moment for the teabaggers, and “overzealous regulation” is blamed for everything from Wall Street’s destruction of the American economy to unqualified persons purchasing homes they don’t deserve in neighborhoods they are unwelcome in — will cranky John McCain join this lawsuit?

Finally, since this is happening in Arizona, do you want to think about the poor little fishies trying to find actual flesh on Cindy McCain‘s skinny toesies?


h/t Lindsay Beyerstein, via Twitter