Nudists insist they have a right to public exposure

Friday, October 12, 2012
Becky Yeh - California correspondent (

In light of protests over a new San Francisco regulation that would ban public nudity, a California professor asserts such behavior isn't typically considered free speech.

Nudists in San Francisco may be required to cover up if legislation passes that would ban nudity in public spaces. Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents San Francisco county, says nudity is becoming a problem, especially in the Castro District, an area he represents.

Wiener introduced a measure last year that required nudists to place a barrier in between them and a public seat when sitting down, but he says that there has been an increase in public nudity.

Rotunda, Ronald (Chapman University)Ronald D. Rotunda is distinguished professor of jurisprudence at Chapman University School of Law. He says it is difficult to interpret the First Amendment as giving a right to public nudity.

"They're just prohibiting nudity that is not even for a particular reason. It's not a free speech piece of nudity in a play or movie; it's just walking around outside in a public area, stark raving nude," he says.

"It's unlikely that there is a First Amendment right to do that, but the cases are not crystal clear."

Nudists contend they have a First Amendment right to freely expose themselves. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Wiener has received complaints about the legislation he has introduced -- mostly from the homosexual community, and also from some shop owners and residents.

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