Tenth Circuit Court issues watershed ruling favoring nudity rights in tossing Fort Collins’s nudity ban in the trash can
Denver, Colo. — The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Constitution in throwing the City of Fort Collins’s ordinance banning public nudity in the trash can on Friday.
The ruling was 2-1, with Judges Gregory Phillips and Mary Beck Briscoe voting to strike down the entire ordinance rather than strike down the part of that bans women from being topless in public.
“Laws grounded in stereotypes about the way women are serve no important governmental interest,” wrote Judge Phillips in a 27-page opinion.
Phillips took a extremely dim view of Fort Collins’s concerns that public nudity posed a danger to children and might distract drivers into crashing. Boulder, located between Fort Collins and Denver, is the only other Colorado municipality that has a public nudity ban on the books. Public nudity is legal in the socially conservative city of Colorado Springs.
“The need to protect children arises, instead, from the city’s fear of topless women parading in front of elementary schools, or swimming topless in the public pool — scenarios that it described to the court,” continued Phillips. “But laws in the neighboring cities of Boulder and Denver, and in many other jurisdictions, allow female toplessness and the city presented no evidence of any harmful fallout.”
Enacted in late 2017 despite the fact that it is blatantly unconstitutional, Fort Collins’ public nudity ban threatens to levy a fine up to $2,650 or a 180-day jail sentence against offenders who “knowingly appear in any public place in a nude state or state of undress such that the genitals or buttocks of either sex or the breast or breasts of a female are exposed.”
The plaintiffs in this case are Brittiany Hoagland and Samantha Six of Free the Nipple-Fort Collins Chapter. They filed a lawsuit almost immediately after Fort Collins passed Ordinance 134 in late 2017.
The case may be headed to the Supreme Court due to the fact that a three judge panel in the Seventh Circuit nearly twelve months ago ruled Chicago’s public nudity ban as constitutional, despite the fact that it mirrored Fort Collins’s ordinance.
“Plaintiffs believe that this is a HUGE victory for women’s rights and is cause for great celebration,” wrote David Lane, the attorney for Free the Nipple, in a press release.