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Constitutional Law

Trial Allowed in Suit By Woman Banned for ‘Dirty Dancing’

Posted May 2, 2008 10:26 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal appeals court has ruled that a North Carolina woman may sue a municipality for permanently banning her from town dances.

Marshall, N.C., officials permanently banned Rebecca Willis from the town's community center in December 2000, citing her provocative dancing at the Friday night dances held there. Willis, now 63, said her dancing was not suggestive and the ban violated her constitutional rights.

The Richmond, Va.-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there is evidence that Willis’ dancing was appropriate and other dancers acted in a similar manner, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports. There is also evidence that Willis received no prior warnings, the court said in its ruling issued Wednesday (PDF posted by How Appealing).

“On these facts, a reasonable jury could conclude that the town’s actions, rather than being guided by concern for the public welfare, were actually motivated by a conscious desire to single her out for undeserved punishment,” the ruling said.

Willis’ lawyer, Jon Sasser, said the ruling means that Willis can proceed to trial on her equal protection claim.

Willis applauded the ruling. “That just tickles me to death,” Willis told the Asheville Citizen-Times. “I finally get my day in court."

A hat tip to How Appealing, which posted the story.


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