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May 12, 2005

Running naked through the streets of Fall River

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided yesterday that Fall River's ordinance banning all forms of public nudity is unconstitutional.  The SJC noted that the US Supreme Court rejected a First Amendment challenge to a virtually identical ordinance five years ago in City of Erie v. Pap's A.M.  However, the SJC held that the Massachusetts Constitution provides broader protection for expressive activities like nude dancing than does the US Constitution - in the Court's words, "we conclude that the Federal rule does not adequately protect the rights of the citizens of Massachusetts."

The Court noted, correctly, that the Fall River ordinance goes well beyond nude dancing to prohibit performances of "Hair" and both the opera (R. Strauss) and play (Oscar Wilde) versions of "Salome," among other works of indisputable artistic merit.  It therefore seems reasonable to me to say, as the Court did, that even though Fall River's stated objectives - cutting down on the undesirable secondary effects that nude dancing establishments tend to have on communities (crime, prostitution, etc.) - are legitimate, they can't use an instrument as blunt as this to achieve those objectives.

Anyway, last one with his pants still on in Fall River's a rotten egg!

Posted by David at 02:55 PM in Law and Lawyers, Massachusetts | Permalink


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And hey, who doesn't like a little nude dancing now and again?

I mean, we're all naked underneath our clothes...

Posted by: Lynne | May 12, 2005 5:37:12 PM

Was this a bad joke? I just got from Fall River where I waited for hours in just an overcoat looking for the naked parade.

Posted by: amos | May 12, 2005 10:02:10 PM

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