Topless Advocates Push Their Cause In Courts

Kia Sinclair stood topless on Hampton Beach in Hampton, N.H. on July 30, 2015. Three New Hampshire women are asking the US Supreme Court to declare that a city ordinance banning women from appearing topless in public violates the Constitution by treating men and women differently. The Supreme Court will likely announce in early October whether it will hear the case. File photo, Vox Efx, CC BY 2.0.

Courts in two states uphold laws against bare breasts 

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A judge refused to overturn part of Utah’s lewdness law Tuesday in a blow to a woman who’s fighting criminal charges after her stepchildren saw her topless in her own home.

Judge Kara Pettit sided with prosecutors who argued that lewdness is commonly understood to include women’s breasts in American society, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Judges should not second-guess what lawmakers have decided is lewd conduct, she wrote.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Tilli Buchanan would appeal the ruling. If she does not, her misdemeanor charges would move toward trial. If convicted, she could face jail time and be forced to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

Buchanan and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah had pointed to a court ruling that overturned a topless ban in Colorado and helped fuel a movement.

They said Utah’s law on lewdness involving a child is unfair because it treats men and women differently for baring their chests.

A global movement advocating for the rights of women to go topless, called the Free the Nipple campaign, has seen mixed success fighting similar ordinances in other parts of the country.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling that blocked a ban in Fort Collins, Colorado, on women going topless in public.

But the U.S. Supreme Court this month left in place the conviction of three members of the Free the Nipple campaign who were arrested for going topless on a New Hampshire beach in 2016.

A public indecency law in Missouri also was upheld in 2017, and a court allowed a San Francisco public nudity ban to remain on the books in 2013.

Buchanan was charged after she and her husband took off their shirts to keep their clothes from getting dirty while they hung drywall in their garage in a Salt Lake City suburb in late 2017 or early 2018.

When her husband’s three children, ages 9 through 13, walked in, she “explained she considers herself a feminist and wanted to make a point that everybody should be fine with walking around their house or elsewhere with skin showing,” her lawyers said in court documents.

The charges against her were filed after the children’s mother reported the incident to child welfare officials working on a separate investigation involving the kids.

Police said Buchanan removed her shirt and bra in front of the children while “under the influence of alcohol.” Her husband was not charged.

Women who lost public nudity case in New Hampshire take case to Supreme Court

Carlos Allevato, CC BY 2.0

Dec. 7, 2019

CONCORD, N.H. — There’s no reason for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on New Hampshire’s “Free the Nipple” case, the state attorney general said this week.

The high court is deciding whether to accept the appeal of three women who were convicted of public nudity at Weirs Beach in Laconia in 2016.

Part of a campaign advocating for the rights of women to go topless, Heidi Lilley, Kia Sinclair and Ginger Pierro argue the city’s ordinance discriminates on the basis of gender and that the Supreme Court should step in to settle disagreements on the issue that have arisen elsewhere.

The court asked the state to respond in September. In its filing this week, the state said there has been no meaningful disagreement.

Nearly every state high court and federal appeals court has upheld similar ordinances, it said. And the only federal appeals court that ruled to the contrary involved reviewing a preliminary injunction, not the merits of the law.

The conflict the women identify is therefore “illusory,” the state said, and the court need not “wade into areas better left for the policy making of local legislative bodies … ” Read more.