Thursday, November 14, 2013

City of Erie v. Pap’s A.M. case brief

City of Erie v. Pap’s A.M. case brief summary
529 U.S. 277 (2000)

On writ of certiorari to Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Western District, petitioner City appealed judgment determining that petitioner's ordinance banning public nudity unconstitutionally burdened the expressive conduct of respondent operator of totally nude erotic dancing establishment under U.S. Constitutional Amendment I.


  • The state supreme court determined that petitioner City's ordinance banning public nudity violated respondent operator of totally nude dancing establishment's right to freedom of expression under U.S. Constitutional Amendment I. 
  • The issue was not moot because even though respondent had ceased operating its establishment, respondent could have decided to operate an establishment and petitioner had an ongoing injury as it was barred from enforcing its ordinance. 
  • The ordinance was content-neutral because it regulated conduct alone, did not target nudity that contained an erotic message, and petitioner's interest in preventing harmful secondary effects associated with adult entertainment establishments was not related to the suppression of the exotic message conveyed by nude dancing. 
  • Since the ordinance was content-neutral, the O'Brien test for evaluating restrictions on symbolic speech applied. 
  • Since petitioner's ordinance satisfied that test, the state supreme court's judgment was reversed.

Judgment reversed because petitioner's ordinance was content-neutral and satisfied the O'Brien test for evaluating restrictions on symbolic speech.

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