Nudity Law Violates Massachusetts Constitution

Lawlor, James
August 2005
Planning;Aug/Sep2005, Vol. 71 Issue 8, p48
Trade Publication
The article reports on the ruling given by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court regarding the case Mendoza v. Licensing Board of Fall River. The court ruled that a city ordinance banning public nudity, enacted to prohibit a nightclub from offering nude dancing, violated the state constitution's guarantee of freedom of speech. Owner Jose Mendoza, whose club is in an industrial park, has been trying for eight years to get permission to offer nude dancing. City officials repeatedly denied Mendoza's adult entertainment license applications. Two months after the licensing board rejected Mendoza's first application in 1997, the city enacted an adult entertainment overlay district and a special permit procedure. The supreme court noted that the public nudity ordinance was virtually identical to the one that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2000 in the case "City of Erie v. Pap's A.M." The supreme court noted that article 16 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights is more protective of nude dancing as a form of expression than the First Amendment is.


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