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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ind. Decisions - "Indiana girl loses 14th Amendment argument to show us her breasts"

Today's NFP opinion in the case of C.T. v. State of Indiana (NFP) is the subject of a story this afternoon in the Indianapolis Star, compiled by Star breaking news editor Gregg Montgomery. Some quotes:

A girl accused of exposing her breasts on an Indianapolis street cannot argue that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution gives her the freedom to do it, the state's appeals court ruled today.

Indianapolis metropolitan police on June 16, 2009, responded to a report of three females exposing themselves to passing vehicles.

One of the three, a 16-year-old girl who is identified only by initials in court documents, could have been charged with a misdemeanor charge of public nudity if she were 18 or older and classified as an adult.

The 14th Amendment's equal protection clause says no state "shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The girl's appointed public defender, Joel M. Schumm, argued Indiana's nudity law was unfair because it covers the nipples of women, but not men. * * *

Schumm said he was disappointed with the appeals court ruling and its decision not to hear oral arguments in the case. He will discuss with the girl the possibility of moving the case to the Indiana Supreme Court.

The public defender said his written arguments to the appeals court outlined traits shared by both genders' breasts. But, Schumm said, history, stereotypes and public sensitivity appear to be defining Indiana's nudity law.

The girl said the justification of public nudity laws often "appears to be the vague notion of public or moral sensibilities," court documents showed. * * *

In the appeals court decision, Judge Cale Bradford wrote, "In the end, (the girl) would have us declare by judicial fiat that the public display of fully-uncovered female breasts is no different than the public display of male breasts, when the citizens of Indiana, speaking through their elected representatives, say otherwise. This we will not do.

"We conclude that Indiana's public nudity statute furthers the goal of protecting the moral sensibilities of that substantial portion of Hoosiers who do not wish to be exposed to erogenous zones in public."

The appeals court decision, affirmed by all three judges, upheld an earlier ruling in a Marion County juvenile court.

The juvenile court discharged the girl to her mother, court documents said.

Laws in some states and localities -- including ones in Hawaii, Maine, New York, Ohio and Texas -- allow public display of women's breasts, according to law sources.

Here are the briefs:See particularly the two paragraphs beginning "The most common justification for female-nipple regulations appears to be the
vague notion of public or moral 'sensibilities'" on pp. 8-9 of CT's initial brief.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 16, 2010 04:05 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions