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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ind. Courts - More on: New play uses 1991 SCOTUS argument to debate the pros and cons of public nudity

Updating this ILB entry from Sept. 6th, about the play based on a SCOTUS oral argument in a case involving nude dancing at the Kitty Kat Lounge in South Bend, when Michael Barnes, who since 2000 has been a judge on the Indiana Court of Appeals, was St Joseph County prosecutor, Slate now has this entertaining article by Emily Bazelon. The heading: "Thigh Court: How a theater company turned a SCOTUS case about nude dancing into a rollicking new play." A sample:

Mining that vein [of online oral arguments], he found the argument in Barnes v. Glen Theater, the Supreme Court’s 1991 decision about whether South Bend, Ind., had the right to ban nude dancing. (The ordinance in question required dancers at the Kitty Kat Lounge to wear pasties and a G-string.) The case turned on whether this kind of performance counts as art and is thus a protected form of free expression.

John noticed that there was a lot more audience participation during the Barnes arguments than he was used to hearing from the staid court recordings: People in the Supreme Court gallery were actually laughing out loud. There’s certainly a good bit of farce to be found in nine august justices and two lawyers wrestling with lofty First Amendment questions prompted by the gyrations of go-go dancers. At one particularly ridiculous point, Justice Anthony Kennedy conjures a hypothetical in which a nude dancer is hired to bring in customers at an “adults-only car wash.”

John decided he wanted to stage the argument in Barnes. He had a civic-minded purpose: to get “more people excited about how you can actually understand these cases, you can follow them.” He wanted to be a new kind of Supreme Court translator. “There were precedents cited I didn’t know or understand and legal ideas that were not immediately accessible, but so much of this case was accessible, I think, because it was about performance,” he says.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 24, 2013 10:09 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts