TOTALLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL is the only word needed to describe Ocean City’s emergency public nudity ban
Ocean City, Md. — The Ocean City government thought it would be a good idea to call an emergency session to infringe on the US Constitution.
In a lame attempt to cover their behinds, the town placed language in the ordinance claiming that “there is no constitutional right for an individual to appear in public nude or in a state of nudity”.
That argument will not fly in the Fourth Circuit as the 24-hour old ordinance violates four separate state and federal laws and amendments:
- A 2002 state law in Maryland not only repealed the state ban on public nudity, it also preempted all local ordinances that banned public nudity too. That means that as long as Ocean City is a part of Maryland, they are not allowed to prohibit public nudity. State law is unambiguous here.
- The exemption that allows for breastfeeding in public violates Article 46 of the state’s Constitution. It states:
Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged or denied because of sex (added by Chapter 366, Acts of 1972, ratified Nov. 7, 1972. Amended by Chapter 681, Acts of 1977, ratified Nov. 7, 1978).
Again, for those who have difficulty comprehending: the breastfeeding exemption alone violates this Article. Add in the fact that this ordinance will not apply to topless men and you have a second violation of the Article.
- The ordinance violates the Free Exercise and Religious Freedom clauses of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. In recent years, federal courts have ruled that public nudity is protected speech, even with the O’Brien Test that was adopted in 1968. Public Nudity is also a religious freedom issue as covered in the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that came about after several Supreme Court rulings – Barnes being among them – that the federal government felt infringed on religious liberty. So, simply saying that there is no constitutional right to be naked in public may slide by with out of touch judicial activists, but such claims no longer cut it with the strict constructionalists former President Barack Obama appointed to the Fourth Circuit.
- This ordinance violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. As explained in #2, men are not required to cover up and breastfeeding is still allowed in the town.
As female nudity rights advocate Chelsea Covington put it, Ocean City believes they can violate the Constitution at will.
“Ocean City seems to feel that the Constitution does not apply to them, but a high court will decide,” she said.
Indeed. We will support Ms. Covington as she prepares her lawsuit against Ocean City. We expect that the town will be served wth the lawsuit first thing Monday morning.