PROSTITUTION LAWS UNCONSTITUTIONAL?
Laws Against the Commercial Exchange of Consensual, Adult Sexual Activity Challenged as Violations Free Speech, Due Process & Freedom of Association Rights
News Release from ESPLER Project, Inc, March 4, 2015
San Francisco, CA — The Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLER), a community-based coalition advancing sexual privacy rights through legal advocacy, filed a complaint today in U.S. District Court against Kamala Harris, California’s Attorney General and leading U.S. Senate candidate, and four Northern Californian District Attorneys, alleging the current anti-prostitution law violates fundamental Constitutional Rights.
The complaint contends that California’s current anti-prostitution law unfairly deprives individuals the right to private consensual activity, criminalizes the discussion of this activity between consenting adults, and unconstitutionally places restrictions on individuals’ right to freely associate.
“We believe it is time to revisit the criminalization of prostitution and put the State to the test. In the light Lawrence v. Texas and Reliable Consultants v. Abbott, the State can no longer simply say that morality is a sufficient reason for regulating private sexual relationships even when it involves the exchange of money,” said ESPLER attorney D. Gill Sperlein. “Social science clearly demonstrates that the criminalization of prostitution puts sex workers at risk of abuse because it discourages them from reaching out to law enforcement.”
Maxine Doogan, ESLPER’s President added “Just as the Lawrence v. Texas decision made same-sex sexual activity legal, and the Loving v. Virginia decision struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage, this complaint seeks to remove the government from restricting basic fundamental and widely recognized civil and human rights.”
The complaint asks the court to declare that California’s prostitution statute, Section 647(b) of the California Penal Code, is unconstitutional.
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Here is the Brief!
PDF: Our Complaint Our complaint! Case # 15 CV 01007
Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project Talking Points
The Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLERP), is a not for profit community-based coalition advancing sexual privacy rights through legal advocacy, education, and research.
ESPLERP has filed a complaint with the United States District Court challenging California’s current anti-prostitution law, Penal Code 647(b) on the following grounds:
- These laws deprive individuals of the fundamental right to engage in consensual, private sexual activity.
- These laws deny individuals the right to chose for themselves how to earn a living and who to enter into a contract with.
- These laws limit how and with whom an individual can associate in private.
- Enforcement of these laws discourages safe sex because the possession of condoms is used as evidence by prosecutors.
- California has failed to provide a legitimate rational to continue denying individuals the right of free speech, the right to earn a living, and the right to freely associate.
- The Penal Code is so vaguely worded that it criminalizes the mere discussion of paying for erotic services between consenting adults.
The complaint has been filed against California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris and the District Attorneys of the City and County of San Francisco; Marin, Alameda, and Sonoma counties.
It asks that the court to declare that California’s prostitution statute, Section 647(b) of the California Penal Code, unconstitutional and remove the government from restricting basic fundamental and widely recognized civil and human rights.
The funding for this lawsuit came from crowd source and Craigslist.
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VICE: A New Lawsuit Aims to Decriminalize Prostitution in California -- "Sperlein says the case will inevitably be contested until it reaches the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. While that decision would ostensibly be tailored to California's prostitution law, it could be applied to other states' prostitution statutes through future cases under the Ninth Circuit's jurisdiction, which also includes Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state."