Constitutional Law

Federal judge allows suit challenging female topless ban as equal protection violation

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A federal judge in Denver is allowing a group called Free the Nipple to pursue their lawsuit challenging a Fort Collins ban on women exposing their breasts in public.

U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson allowed the group and two of its members to sue for alleged violations of the equal protection clause, the Denver Post reports.

The ordinance bars public exposure of the breast below the top of the areola and nipple, except for girls under age 10 or women who are breastfeeding.

Free the Nipple had claimed the ban perpetuates stereotypes about girls and women that deem their breasts to be “primarily objects of sexual desire.” Jackson said in her ruling (PDF) the argument adequately states an equal protection violation.

Jackson tossed a First Amendment claim, however, saying the plaintiffs “have not adequately stated that there is a great likelihood that their nudity’s message about the sexualized nature of certain laws is likely to be understood by those who view them topless in public.”

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