ACLU Sues Missouri City Council Over Indecent Exposure Law

Free The Nipple

The American Civil Liberties Union and a woman’s group that advocates for a women’s right to expose her breasts in public are joining together to sue a Missouri city council over a new indecent exposure law that protesters say illegally limits the rights of free expression and maybe even breast feeding moms.

The lawsuit filed by the advocacy group Free The Nipple insists that its suit is intended to advance “equality.”

The new rules were voted in by a 5-4 vote in September and state that women must cover a greater percentage of their breasts in public, and both sexes must cover 100 percent of their buttocks.

But the two groups say that the new law is a violation of the First Amendment.

The suit charges that the city council of Springfield, Missouri has “focused upon the double standards, hypocrisies and sexualization of the female upper body that underlie government efforts to censor female breasts.” The group also says they “strive for gender equality.”

For its part, the ACLU claims that the new law criminalizes freedom of expression and forces women into an “inferior legal status” and criminalizes “their expression based on their sex.”

The groups also worry that the rules might be illegally applied to mothers who breastfeed in public.

The two groups also claim that Councilman Justin Burnett tailored his law as a response to recent topless rallies and was meant to quash their “Free The Nipple” movement.

The ACLU has asked a judge to issue an injunction to put a halt to the new rules and summarily declare them a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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