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
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
"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.