Main | Friday, January 18, 2013

SF Nudists Go To Federal Court

Activists are trying to block San Francisco Supervisor Scott Weiner's bill to outlaw public nudity and yesterday their case began in federal court.
The 90-minute-long hearing was a low-decibel and mostly cordial affair punctuated by numerous case citations and cavalcades of legal jargon. If not for eccentrically dressed members of the gallery and the frequent recitation of the ordinance's text -- "A person may not expose his or her genitals, perineum, or anal region..." -- one could be forgiven for thinking he'd wandered into the wrong room. Then the judge started talking about naked dancing.

Prior Supreme Court cases, noted [Judge Edward] Chen, have made allowances for nude dancing exhibitions or other artistic acts of nudism as distinguished from the simple state of being naked. Quoting former Justice David Souter, Chen noted that "performance dancing is inherently expressive. Nudity, per se, is not." Merely being unclothed at "parks, beaches, and hot dog stands" is not worthy of First Amendment protection. Chen further expressed that the scope of Wiener's ordinance, as compared to prior attempts to ban public nudity elsewhere, was "fairly narrowly drawn."
The ban, should it stand, goes into effect at the end of the month.

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