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May 24, 2016

ESPLERP Appeals Sex Workers Case to Ninth Circuit

SAN FRANCISCO—The Erotic Service Providers Legal Education Research Project (ESPLERP) has appealed the Order issued March 31 by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White dismissing its lawsuit to overturn California's anti-prostitution law, Penal Code 647(b). ESPLERP filed a Motion of Appeal today to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. ESPLERP's suit, ESPLERP v Gascon, was originally filed in March of last year by the group and three sex workers, collectively represented by First Amendment attorneys H. Louis Sirkin and D. Gil Sperlein. Following Judge White's dismissal of the suit, ESPLERP head Maxine Doogan stated that "we may have no option but to appeal to the Ninth Circuit, where we are confident that the merits of our case will finally be recognized and we will be granted relief." One of the core arguments of ESPLERP's suit to which Judge White gave no weight in his opinion accompanying his Order to dismiss is that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v Texas, the 2003 case that legalized homosexual conduct between consenting adults, established a "liberty interest" for the plaintiffs to engage in paid sexual transactions.  Jerald Mosley, a former supervising deputy attorney general for the State Department of Justice, opined, "Appeal of the trial court's ruling is necessary to resist the denigration of sex workers and to affirm Lawrence v Texas' articulation of individuals' right to privacy in their sexual conduct. The issue is whether we need to submit our personal relationships for court inspection before we are allowed to claim our constitutional right to privacy." Added longtime human rights activist Mike Chase, "This case is about whether the government may intrude into the private lives of consenting adults by criminalizing their sexual behavior. Lawrence v Texas said that it may not. Americans have a constitutional right to privacy regarding their sexual behavior." While ESPLERP's case is primarily funded by individuals making small contributions, additional donations may be submitted here.

 
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