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Friday, November 14, 2014

Courts - "Woman ticketed for going topless at Chicago event files civil rights suit against city" [Updated]

Martha Neil has the report today in the ABA Journal, quoting from a Chicago Tribune story, which includes a link to a YouTube video of the arrest. A quote from the story reported by Jason Meisner:

Sonoko Tagami, 41, is an ardent supporter of "GoTopless," a not-for-profit organization that "advocates for the right of women to appear bare-chested in public," according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court. * * *

Tagami's suit claims the city's ordinance barring women from exposing "any portion of the breast at or below the upper edge of the areola" is unconstitutionally vague and a violation of free speech. The suit also alleged that since men are excluded from the ordinance, it violates rights to equal protection under the law.

Her attorney, Kenneth Flaxman, said Tagami had never had a problem at demonstrations in the city before this year.

"She was out there for several years making a statement about the absurdity of the law, and each time she had opaque body paint and the cops thought it was cute," Flaxman said. "l guess this time the cops didn't think it was OK."

ILB: Indiana has its own case, heard by a Court of Appeals panel in 2010. The panel elected to designate its opinion as Not for Publication.

The ILB however has a Sept. 16, 2010 post on the case, that includes links not only to the NFP opinion, but to the briefs. Joel Schumm, professor at Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law, represented the defendant in the case. A quote from the summary in his initial brief:

The public nudity statute violates the Equal Protection Clause by prohibiting the display of female nipples while allow men to bare their nipples without limitation. Although the burden is on the State to offer an “exceedingly persuasive” justification for disparate treatment, here the State offered no argument, much less any evidence, to justify treating women differently from men. Moreover, the justifications offered by other courts, such a maintaining public sensibilities, are based on long-standing sexual stereotypes and do not serve a legitimate government interest.
Here is a quote from the panel's NFP opinion, written by Judge Bradford:
In the end, C.T. 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.
[Updated at 10:45 AM] Prof. Schumm writes to advise that C.T. was later reclassified as For Publication, upon a grant of his motion. Transfer was denied by the Supreme Court.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 14, 2014 08:38 AM
Posted to Courts in general | Ind. App.Ct. Decisions | Why is this NFP?