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November 04, 2015

Nude Activist Settle Latest Case with San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO—On November 3, the City of San Francisco and two of its most famous nude activists, Gypsy Taub and George Davis, formally settled their most recent litigation. The case stemmed from the San Francisco Police Department’s denial of a parade permit for a nude-in parade which took place the Saturday before San Francisco’s famous Folsom Street Fair. SFPD denied the parade permit application on the grounds that the 50 to 100 nude activists expected for the event was not large enough to warrant a parade permit. But the activists’ veteran First Amendment lawyers D. Gill Sperlein and Lawrence Walters argued to a federal judge that it would be unconstitutional to allow the Police Department to require a minimum number of people since the permitting ordinance contained no such limitation. In an emergency opinion issued the day before the event, District Judge Richard Seeborg agreed, finding that, “the denial of the permit cannot stand because the ordinance does not authorize [the Chief of Police] to withhold approval on the grounds that an applicant’s proposed event will have too few participants.” Accordingly, the Court ordered the City to grant the permit.  The event occurred without a hitch (or a stitch), and on Saturday, September 26, Davis, Taub, and a group of nude activists marched down Market Street celebrating the human body and opposing San Francisco’s ban on nudity in public places. “It is always incredibly satisfying to win a case when the win strengthens the First Amendment, and this case certainly falls in that category,” said Sperlein. “I could not be more thrilled.” Lawrence Walters noted, “The court obviously recognized that the SFPD’s actions were designed to frustrate our clients’ rights to free expression.  Fortunately in this case, justice prevailed and government censorship lost.” Seeing the futility of defending the case further, the City quickly settled, agreeing to reimburse the activists for their attorneys’ fees. The stipulation filed today does not affect ongoing litigation in which Taub and Davis have challenged the way the City has enforced its nudity regulations. That case is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Pictured: Gypsy Taub (left) at nude protest at San Francisco City Hall.

 
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