WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Law Office of Eric Alan Isaacson (La Jolla, CA) and Liberty Legal Services PLLC (Manchester, NH) filed a petition in the U.S. Supreme Court for three New Hampshire women convicted under a Laconia, NH Ordinance that outlaws public exposure of “the female breast.” The petition was docketed on Friday as Lilley v. New Hampshire, No. 19-64.
The women’s lawyer, Mr. Isaacson, explained that “in May of 2016 these women were charged with the crime of being topless and female at Weirs Beach in Endicott Park.”
New Hampshire’s Supreme Court affirmed their convictions in February 2019, rejecting objections that criminalizing “the female breast” violates women’s right to equal protection of the law by impermissibly classifying on the basis of gender to punish only women. A three-justice majority of the state supreme court held that an ordinance specifically targeting “the female breast” is one that “does not classify on the basis of gender.” Two of the court’s five justices dissented.
The women now are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case, pointing out that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held earlier this year, in Free the Nipple-Fort Collins v. City of Fort Collins, that a Colorado city’s similar ordinance “creates a gender classification on its face,” and that “this gender disparity violates the Equal Protection Clause” of the federal constitution.
One of the women seeking review of the New Hampshire decision is Kia Sinclair, who as a breast-feeding mother in 2015 helped to organize the New Hampshire arm of the Free the Nipple Movement. Sinclair said, “I hope the U.S. Supreme Court can see that it’s wrong for the government to objectify our breasts by criminalizing us for taking our shirts off on a hot day, like any man is allowed to do.” Another is Heidi Lilley, who has testified before the state legislature about such regulations’ adverse effects, and who commented today: “Women shouldn’t be deprived of freedoms that men have merely because some want to reduce us to sex objects.”
The women are represented by Eric Alan Isaacson, of La Jolla, California, and by Dan Hynes, of Manchester, New Hampshire, who emphasized that “this case presents an important individual-liberty issue for citizens of New Hampshire.”
The State of New Hampshire’s response to the petition is due August 12, 2019.
The Supreme Court’s docket (with links to documents): https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/19-64.html