A U.S. Supreme
Court decision is expected to take a bite out of Arizona tourism. OK, maybe
just a nibble. A toothless nibble at that.
The Court has
rejected an appeal by the owner a Phoenix-area spa that ran afoul of Arizona
regulations that barred her from providing pedicures in which clients have
their feet nibbled by small fish to remove dead skin.
court's action, made without comment by the justices – how could they resist? -
ends a years-long case over fish pedicures, which have become a popular
alternative to exfoliation for some spa-goers but are banned in some U.S.
states for health and safety reasons.
involves customers placing their feet in a water tank filled with toothless
Garra rufa fish, also known as doctor fish, which suck the dead tissue off
their feet to leave them feeling softer. (Isn't there a cream for that?)
Cindy Vong, who
has operated a nail salon in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert since 2006,
introduced the treatment in 2008. She imported fish from China and remodeled
her business to create a separate fish spa area.
In 2009, she
was told by the Arizona Board of Cosmetology that the treatment violated the
agency's safety standards, and that she could face criminal charges. The board
said any tool or equipment used in a pedicure must be stored and disinfected in
a specific way, and that she could not disinfect the fish coming in contact
with clients' skin.
year, Vong closed the fish spa part of her salon, and the Phoenix-based
conservative Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit against the board in state
superior court on her behalf. Over the past years the case has made its way
through higher courts and finally to the pinnacle of U.S. justice, which has
clearly stated: “No fishing."