Activist judge appointed by Trump upholds Ocean City’s illegal ban on nudity
Baltimore — A three judge panel on Wednesday, August 4, upheld a constitution-violating ban on public nudity that Ocean City, Md. passed in June 2017.
However, the words of the judge who wrote the opinion is improperly used on its face.
“The judicial legacy of justifying laws on the basis of the perceived moral sensibilities of the public is far from spotless. Some government action that we now rightly view as unconstitutional, if not immoral, has been justified on that basis. Even so, in this situation, protecting public sensibilities serves an important basis for government action,” wrote A. Marvin Quattlebaum, a Greenville judge appointed by Trump in 2018.
First off, Quattlebaum is wrong in his assertion. There’s no justification for government to ban public nudity in any place where a person has a right to be on US soil, especially given that breastfeeding is practically legal everywhere now. And additionally, his assertion that government must protect the public sensibilities can certainly apply to guns – and should. Unlike the naked body, guns have injured, maimed and killed people – and scarred millions more for life.
The Chief Judge, Clinton appointee Roger Gregory, reluctantly upheld the town’s ban (the decision was 3-0) due to the Barnes v. Glen Theatre decision in 1991. He had what could be the quote of the century:
“At first glance, Ocean City’s ordinance seems innocuous enough. … But we must take care not to let our analysis be confined by the limits of our social lens. Suppose the ordinance defined nudity to include public exposure of a woman’s hair, neck, shoulders, or ankles. Would that law not run afoul of the Equal Protection Clause?”
He has a point and he all but ordered the US Supreme Court to overturn the Barnes decision. However, the plaintiffs can appeal to the full Fourth Circuit prior to petitioning the Supreme Court. Nudity bans now run afoul of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment due to, again, breastfeeding being legal. If women can breastfeed in public, then people must be allowed to be naked in public too. The Equal Protection Clause is supposed to strike down ordinances like the one in Ocean City.
The decision is wrong and must be appealed.
We at Aiken Area Progressive also call on state legislatures around the country to nullify all bans on public nudity.