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Indiana judges dismiss girl's nipple exposure appeal

No constitutional protection for Hoosier's hooters

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A court has ruled that women's nipples do not enjoy freedom of expression under the US Constitution.

The case was brought by a 16 year old girl, who was one of three women accused of exposing their breasts to passing traffic on an Indianapolis street last year.

She would have faced a misdemeanour charge of public nudity if she had been 18 or over.

She took issue with the fact that exposure of male nips would not have been covered by the law, as Indiana law specifically prohibits exposure of female nipples.

She decided to take the issue, and presumably the breasts in question, to the State Appeals Court. Her argument was that the equal protection afforded by the 14th Amendment meant her breasts should be treated the same as male breasts. The amendment holds that States may not "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." It has been a feature of civil rights cases since the 19th century - not always in the ways you'd expect.

According to the Indiana Star, Judge Cale Bradford wrote, "In the end, (the girl) would have us declare by judicial fiat that the public display of fully-uncovered female breasts is no different than the public display of male breasts, when the citizens of Indiana, speaking through their elected representatives, say otherwise. This we will not do."

The judge added, "We conclude that Indiana's public nudity statute furthers the goal of protecting the moral sensibilities of that substantial portion of Hoosiers who do not wish to be exposed to erogenous zones in public."

The girl's lawyer, Joel M Schumm, said he was disappointed that the judges refused to hear oral arguments in the case, and said that public sensiblity and stereotypes were being used to define the law. He is discussing airing the case in the State Supreme Court. ®

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