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Hightower v. City and County of San Francisco

Case Summary: 12-cv-05841

This is a case about public nudity in the City of San Francisco.

In November 2012, by a 6-5 vote, the City and County of San Francisco passed an ordinance providing that a “person may not expose his or her genitals, perineum, or anal region on any public street, sidewalk, street median, parklet, or plaza, or in any [government operated] transit vehicle, station, platform, or stop,” unless the person is under the age of 5 or unless the nudity is part of a permitted parade, fair, or festival. The ordinance provides for fines for the 1st through 3rd violations or, in the alternative, a possible jail term of under one year for a 3rd or subsequent violation.

Plaintiffs are four self-proclaimed nudists, who claim to use nudity as political speech, and who have sued on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated making this a class action suit. They are requesting that the court declare the ordinance to be unconstitutional and issue a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction to prevent its enforcement. The video is of the hearing on Plaintiffs Application for Temporary Restraining Order.

The primary basis of Plaintiffs’ claim is that the ordinance violates the First Amendment of the Constitution in that it impermissibly restricts their free speech and association rights as it attempts to criminalize nudity even when engaged in for the purpose of political advocacy. They also claim that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because it draws a difference based on age and because it excepts out certain individuals who obtain a permit for a parade, fair, or festival from everyone else without justification.

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