In the Summer of 2015, Heidi Lilley and B. Liz MacKinnon were ticketed on Gilford beach in alleged violation of the town’s ordinances. In late December, they went to trial at Laconia district court and Free State Project early mover and attorney Dan Hynes put on an excellent defense. Judge James M. Carroll took the case under advisement and has now issued his six-page order: both cases are dismissed!
Don’t get too excited. If you read the order, you’ll find that Judge Carroll is no hero of constitutional rights or equality. Page three of his order ridiculously cites the private Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings system as evidence of a supposed “societal desire” to regulate female toplessness. Carroll argues that because the state’s three prudish witnesses (the three snitches) don’t appreciate female toplessness and because the town gave notice of the existence of the ordinance, that somehow means the town ordinance doesn’t violate the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution or Article 1 of the NH Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
Given that Article 1 only mentions men when it says, “All men are born equally free and independent”, is it Judge Carroll’s opinion that only men were born free and that women can be told what to wear, for the good of “society”? He’s not foolish enough to come right out and say that, but his order does make excuse after outrageous excuse for the town’s ordinance, claiming it’s constitutionally sound:
The township’s compelling interest is met in maintaining the beach as a natural resource to be enjoyed by young and old , men and women, families and single persons while preserving appropriate standards that allow the township to maintain their local values and mores…The Court does not find that the prohibition violates any constitutionally protected right…the movement “does not have ‘a right to impose one’s lifestyle on other who have an equal right to be left alone.
Topless Tuesday, Keene’s Central Square, 2010
So, if the social mores were that all women must wear burqas, because seeing any skin at all bothered people, it sounds like Carroll would consider that mandate constitutional as well.
Though Carroll defends the right to marry either gender, he says that such marriage is a protected right, while toplessness is not. On the final page, he claims the toplessness in this case had no artistic value, while on page three he acknowledges the female nipple “has been the subject of great beauty in art”. Apparently Carroll is an art critic now, too.
Ultimately, Carroll decides the case in the favor of the defendants, but not on the excellent constitutional or equal protection arguments made by attorney Hynes, but simply on a technicality of the system: (more…)
Hoping to overturn the illegal, discriminatory town ordinance, Lilley and MacKinnon teamed up with Free State Project early mover and attorney Dan Hynes.
Hynes’ line of questioning was interesting, specifically asking the state’s witnesses, which included three snitches and a few cops, how they determine someone is a woman. The all answered something about breasts, which is inconclusive. Without inspecting genitalia, which the police did not do, there would be reasonable doubt that the person is female.
Hynes argued, in a ten-page motion to dismiss (complimented by jovial Judge James M. Carroll) the ordinance is unconstitutional and violates equal protection and the right to free expression. Further, he argues the ordinance is also illegal because New Hampshire is not a “home rule” state and unless the state legislature authorizes towns to pass laws of their own, they cannot legally do so.
The last time we heard about how many taxpayer dollars the city of Keene has spent on their frivolous lawsuit to try to crush the rights of Keene’s Robin Hooders, it was December of 2013, the year they filed the suits against us.
Keene’s Robin Hooders were feeding expired parking meters in relative obscurity until the city filed its suit in May of 2013. That suit blew up into a huge storm of publicity, making Keene’s government the laughingstock of the world.
Attorney Charles Bauer is getting very rich from taxpayer dollars.
Determined not to show any good sense, the city gang continued to lavish tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on failure after failure in this case. They hired the go-to law firm for all NH municipalities, “Gallagher, Callahan, and Gartrell” (the same firm that lost the Gericke case, which upheld the right to record police). Hey, it’s not like it’s the city’s money – they stole it from Keene’s productive class – the people.
Now the case is going back to the NH supreme court on appeal, but mayor Lane claims the law firm is going to cut them a break on this appeal and do it pro-bono. How generous of Bauer’s firm! (Robin Hood attorney Jon Meyer has been pro-bono from day one.)