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Amicus Curiae  Brief Submitted To The US Supreme Court In Support Of Public Female Nudity Case Covered by NBC

Press Coverage

See Amicus Brief Here


Grab Them By The Ballot and Spencer Tunick Reunite After #wethenipple Artistic Protest And Submit Brief To US Supreme Court Arguing For The Decriminalization Of Female Nudity


August 14, 2019, WASHINGTON, DC--Grab Them By The Ballot, Inc, has joined with internationally known photographer Spencer Tunick, and with Christine Hallquist, the first openly transgender major-party nominee for governor, in women’s legal effort to demand equal protection by the courts in a case regarding public nudity.


Yesterday the trio filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief before the United States Supreme Court supporting three women arrested for being topless at their local beach in Laconia, New Hampshire.  The women were convicted of violating a Laconia ordinance outlawing public exposure of “the female breast,” and punishing women--but not men--for being topless in public.


New Hampshire’s Supreme Court affirmed their convictions in February 2019, rejecting objections that criminalizing “the female breast” violates women’s constitutional right to equal protection of the law by impermissibly classifying on the basis of gender.


The three New Hampshire women filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review their case on July 12, 2019, asking the Court to resolve disagreement among lower courts about whether discriminatory public-nudity laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.  Yesterday's amicus brief supports that petition, asking the United States Supreme Court to accept the case and overturn the Laconia ordinance. 


“The joint brief unequivocally supports the claim that sex discrimination in public nudity laws is a clear equal protection violation and it needlessly complicates other constitutional problems inherent in public nudity regulation and perpetuates dangerous gender stereotypes” states Ben Nutley, the lawyer who filed the brief on behalf of the group.


Grab Them By The Ballot is a nude photo campaign that aims to empower women and increase voter turnout.  Dawn Robertson, Founder of the grassroots non-profit organization, said: “This is a pivotal and timely case that reflects the perverse and anachronistic laws regulating women’s bodies in our country.”  


“Although our organization’s campaign is geared towards promoting awareness, dismantling archaic cultural narratives and normalizing female nudity through protest art, we strongly affirm that the legal system remains a powerful tool to create meaningful change and this case could change the course of history,” says Robertson.


Optimistic that the petition will be successful, she adds “we want to see the laws reflect the body sovereignty that women are gaining today and countless women have fought for since the birth of this nation.”


“This is a vital issue for our campaign and goes to the continued shaming and policing of women’s bodies,” Robertson says. The group recently participated in the #wethenipple nude photoshoot to protest the censorship of female nudity by social media platforms in front of Facebook’s headquarters in NYC on June 2nd to challenge the social media’s censorship of female artistic nudity. 


Grab Them By The Ballot involvement and Spencer Tunick’s photographs of the artistic protest were covered by CNN and picked up worldwide. 


While the amicus brief is Grab Them By The Ballot's first foray into the legal fight over public nudity, Tunick is a repeat player.  New York City tried to prevent his now-iconic photographs from being taken, a fight the city unsuccessfully took to the U.S. Supreme Court. “To be free and nude in art and life outside of an enclosed environment is what I have been fighting for 30 years,” says Tunick. 


"The brief we filed explains how impossible it is to impose binary gender distinctions in people's attire” explains Hallquist. Eager to join the effort she adds “discriminatory nudity laws based on antiquated notions of gender roles are not just harmful to women, they are completely unworkable for many transgender people as well.”


“Courts have endorsed this inequality for decades, in the process ingraining the very stereotypes and gender bias cited to justify the inequality in the first place” states Nutley. Rejecting the argument that communities should be able to discriminate if "local sensibilities" favor it, Nutley counters that "this is not a country where we permit majority religious beliefs to dictate that women dress more modestly in public than men."


The initial petition asking the Supreme Court to review their case was filed on July 12, 2019, as Lilley v. New Hampshire, No. 19-64.  The Supreme Court’s justices are expected to consider the petition and amicus brief in early October, after the end of their summer recess.


Amicus Brief  Click Here


Original brief asking the Court to review the case  Click Here


Link to the Court's docket showing all the documents filed Click Here


NBC News, 19 Aug. 2019
Pete Williams, Women ask Supreme Court to toss topless ban: Why are rules different for men? Read Here


Daily Mail, 21 Aug. 2019
Jerry Marmash, Three 'Free the Nipple' campaigners take their battle to bare all in public to the Supreme Court after they were arrested for sunbathing and doing yoga topless Read Here

NHPR (New Hampshire Public Radio), 21 Aug. 2019
Annie Ropeik, “Free the Nipple” Trio Appeal Laconia Case to SCOTUS Read Here

Montreal Gazette, 21 Aug. 2019
Fatima Texiwala, 'FREE THE NIPPLE': New Hampshire's topless advocates take legal battle to Supreme Court Read Here 21 Aug. 2019
Fatima Texiwala, 'FREE THE NIPPLE': New Hampshire's topless advocates take legal battle to Supreme Court Read Here

New York Post, 20 Aug. 2019
Ben Feuerherd, Right to bare boobs: Topless advocates take the battle to Supreme Court Read Here

NECN, 20 Aug. 2019
NH Women Ask US Supreme Court to Toss Topless Ban Read Here

iHeart Radio KFI AM 640, 20 Aug. 2019
Bill Gallucio, Three Women Ask Supreme court to Overturn New Hampshire Town’s Topless Ban Read Here

Fox8 Cleveland, 20 Aug. 2019
Talia Naquin, Women ask Supreme Court to toss topless ban Read Here