San Francisco nudity ban set to start Friday after challenge tossed out by court

S.F. Examiner File PhotoA U.S. District Judge dismissed nudity activists’ claim that San Francisco’s ban on public nudity violated their First Amendment rights.

S.F. Examiner File PhotoA U.S. District Judge dismissed nudity activists’ claim that San Francisco’s ban on public nudity violated their First Amendment rights.

Come Friday, San Franciscans must put on their clothes.

A law banning public nudity in The City will go into effect after the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismissed a challenge Tuesday.

The case was filed last year by four nudists who said covering up violated their First Amendment rights to express their political views. However, the court disagreed. In a hearing earlier this month, the judge in the case said it takes more than disrobing in public to make a political statement.

In a written statement Tuesday, Judge Edward Chen said the case lacked merit and banning nudity does not conflict with state law.

The “challenge to the Ordinance based on the First Amendment lacks merit because nudity is not inherently expressive and because the Ordinance is not substantially overbroad,” the ruling said.

Christina DiEduardo, attorney for the nudity activists, said this is not the end of the road and an appeal might be filed.

“Obviously my clients are disappointed,” DiEduardo said. “This is not the end of litigation by a long shot.”

Last year, the Board of Supervisors narrowly passed the ban, which requires the “genitals, perineum, and anal region” to be covered up. It’s set to take effect Friday, but nudity will be permitted during certain events, including the Bay to Breakers race and Folsom Street Fair.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement that Tuesday’s outcome affirms established case law.

“The plaintiffs took an unlikely position in their case that if they couldn’t be naked everywhere, no one could be naked anywhere,” Herrera said. “We believed their legal challenge to be baseless, and we’re grateful that the court agreed.”

Violators of the ban will face a range of penalties. A first offense carries a maximum fine of $100. After a third offense, prosecutors would have the authority to charge someone with a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine and a year in jail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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