A National Guard soldier in Kentucky is suing the U.S. Army for $100 million over a new policy banning certain tattoos.
Staff Sgt. Adam C. Thorogood’s action accuses the Army of preventing him from joining a special operations unit as a warrant officer because of the new regulations, according to The Associates Press. Thorogood’s tattoos cover the lower portion of his left arm, a newly forbidden area.
The Associates Press reported:
The regulations went into effect in March cover a variety of appearance-related issues including hair styles, fingernails, glasses and jewelry. The rules ban tattoos below the knee or elbow. Soldiers who already have the ink are grandfathered in. Under the new regulations, any soldier with tattoos is barred from seeking a promotion to warrant officer or commissioning as an officer.
Thorogood’s attorney filed suit Thursday in Paducah, Ky., saying Thorogood’s right to free speech is being violated and the policy violates a constitutional ban on laws applied retroactively.
“You’ve got a soldier who is about as gung-ho as you get. Then you’ve got this regulation you read about on Facebook, and you don’t have a career,” attorney Robin May told The Associated Press. “That would be a blow.”
“The Army is a profession, and one of the ways our leaders and the American public measure our professionalism is by our appearance,” Army Sgt. Maj. Raymond F. Chandler III said in an online video back in March. “Every soldier has the responsibility to understand and follow these standards. Leaders at all levels also have a responsibility to interpret and enforce these standards, which begins by setting the example.”
In addition to $100 million in damages, the lawsuit is asking the court to find the new policy unconstitutional.
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