Judge rejects legalizing prostitution in CA


ProstitutionA push by current and former sex workers in San Francisco to legalize prostitution has been rebuffed by a California judge.

“Erotic Service Provider Legal, Education & Research Project — a San Francisco-based advocacy group — sued Attorney General Kamala Harris and district attorneys of four counties in March 2015,” Courthouse News reported, “claiming that prosecuting sex that is ‘part of a voluntary commercial exchange between adults’ violates the state and U.S. Constitutions.”

“But U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White on March 31 agreed with the state’s claims that ‘there is no fundamental right to engage in prostitution or to solicit prostitution’ and that ‘any relationship between the prostitute and the client is not expressive association protected by the Constitution.'”

The Harris factor

The case had taken on an added edge as Kamala Harris has forged ahead with her campaign to replace outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer. White’s ruling came as a relief: his language largely mirrored her own in a brief filed against plaintiffs. “There is no fundamental right to engage in prostitution or to solicit prostitution,” wrote Harris in her motion to dismiss the case, as the Washington Blade recalled. “Neither is prostitution or solicitation expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment.” But shortly after Harris filed, the Supreme Court ruled, in Obergefell v. Hodges, that same-sex marriages were constitutionally protected — a decision that plaintiffs sought to use to their advantage against Harris.

In a court brief filed in January, plaintiffs argued that the logic in Obergefell ought to lead to a ruling in their favor. “Plaintiffs commenced this lawsuit to challenge California’s intrusion upon their fundamental liberty interest in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex. Obergefell continues the Supreme Court’s jurisprudential theme of shielding private, sexual relationships from governmental oversight,” they wrote, claiming that the ruling’s treatment of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause “allows individuals to engage in intimate conduct without unwarranted governmental intrusion.”

No protected interest

White rejected that argument. “He said the high court, in the 2003 ruling, disavowed any intention to legalize prostitution,” the San Francisco Chronicle noted, and “cited a 1988 ruling by the federal appeals court in San Francisco that observed the relationship between a paid escort and a client ‘possesses few, if any, of the aspects of an intimate association. It lasts for a short period and only as long as the client is willing to pay the fee.'”

“Established legal authority ‘dictates that the intimate association between a prostitute and client, while it may be consensual and cordial, has not merited the protection of the Due Process Clause,’ which requires the government to follow legal standards when restricting individual liberty, White said.”

White went on to hold that “criminalizing prostitution serves legitimate government interests of promoting public safety and preventing injury and coercion,” according to the Associated Press. Prostitution has been illegal in California since 1872, with a 1961 update increasing the state’s $500 fine to $1,000 — while leaving in place the original punishment of six month’s time in jail. Rounding out his decision, the Chronicle added, White also rejected plaintiffs’ claims that their rights to free expression and to earning a living did not extend to using illegal activity to do so.

Last chance

As has sometimes been the pattern with similarly high-profile lawsuits, the current case could take on a second life through the appeals process. “White gave the group an opportunity to amend its lawsuit,” as the AP noted. “D. Gill Sperlein, an attorney for the group, said he’s not certain he will file an amended lawsuit, but he will appeal the decision.” But the clock has been ticking. If plaintiffs fail to amend their complaint by May 6, Courthouse News observed, White “will dismiss it with prejudice.”


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  1. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 11 April, 2016, 15:38

    Proponents of legalizing prostitution seem to be clueless. Most prostitutes are not freelancing sole-practitioners, but drug-addicts who are controlled by a pimp. Too many others–including children–are held captive by human-traffickers as sex-slaves. If prostitution were legalized things would not get better for prostitutes or sex-slaves, but it sure would make life easier for pimps and slavers. And tell, if it were legalized, how would you go about explaining to your daughter or son that prostitution is not an honorable profession?

    Reply this comment
    • Vespasian
      Vespasian 11 April, 2016, 17:09

      It seems to me that you’re the clueless one. “Most prostitutes…” may be true or not [debatable and likely area-dependent], but there certainly are many that are drug/disease/pimp-free & do so willingly; what right does the gov’t have to restrict or “protect” them simply because others aren’t? You assume a great many negatives if prostitution were legalized (and surely regulated and taxed, like alcohol is); where is your evidence it would be so? I think it’s highly likely that johns would prefer pimp-free (legal) providers so as not to get caught up in dirty dealings / sex-slave situations, and conditions would improve for willing practitioners and unwilling ones would lose market share and fold up shop. As for explaining to youngsters about “honorable professions”, how is that any different from currently having to explain about [legal] exotic dancing? Also, who decides what is “honorable” in professions, and why should that matter in deciding what is legal or not? IMHO, I view prostitutes as more honorable than bankers and politicians; maybe we ought look to outlaw them!!

      Reply this comment
      • Robert Curtis
        Robert Curtis 11 April, 2016, 21:22

        Personally I think Prostitution is a vile operation, but IF (big “IF”) the right controls are in place to protect the prostitute and the public by way of physicals and autonemy (freedom to practice) what business is it of our? Sex crimes will probably go down and the income of the working girls will stimulate the economy and relieve many of the frustrations we currently have in society as a whole. Just keep it clean. Now, the same happens without ANY controls, education and safe guards. Which is more dangerous?

        Reply this comment
        • Standing Fast
          Standing Fast 18 April, 2016, 12:21

          If I thought there was a good way to frame a bad law, I would say so. But, if there was, we wouldn’t be having all the trouble in the world we are having now. A long time ago, I signed onto the ancient tradition that says there is a Higher Law that governs the Universe to which we are all held accountable, regardless of race, religion, creed, color, sex, nationality, zip code, dietary habits or preferred mode of transportation. I’m afraid the outcome of failure to learn from the wisdom of those who have gone before us isn’t up to me. I had to learn the hard way that the Hippie Philosophy is not the road to Happiness. Nor is it anything new. Peace.

          Reply this comment
    • Veronica Monet
      Veronica Monet 12 April, 2016, 00:16

      Prostitution IS an honorable profession and it IS legal in Nevada. And it IS decriminalized in New Zealand. And New Hampshire introduced legislation proposing to decriminalize prostitution at the beginning of this year. And Amnesty International has recommended that ALL nations decriminalize prostitution. Maybe you should learn more about the topic before you comment.

      Reply this comment
  2. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 11 April, 2016, 18:52

    This is sure to get them from NOWW(nATIONAL ORGANIZATION ofr WICKED WITICHES someones going to get turned into a toadiefrog

    Reply this comment
  3. bob
    bob 11 April, 2016, 21:43

    Judge rejects legalizing prostitution in CA

    Does this mean the state assembly, senate and moon beam’s office has just been outlawed?

    Reply this comment
    • ricky65
      ricky65 12 April, 2016, 09:43

      Sorry, bob- The state’s politicians remain exempt from prostitution laws even though they continue to whore themselves out to the PE labor unions, slip and fall lawyers, tech oligarchs and radical greens in return for entirely owning their wretched,souless bodies.

      Reply this comment
    • Standing Fast
      Standing Fast 18 April, 2016, 11:26

      Well, it all depends upon what definition of “prostitute” the law is using. I’m guessing that our fearless leaders at the State Capitol are exempted by a loop-hole in existing statutes otherwise we would all be enjoying the headlines a lot more than we are now.

      Reply this comment
  4. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 12 April, 2016, 06:59

    To be clear, the judge “rejected legalizing prostitution UNDER CURRENT LAW.” Important distinction. IF the public rethinks this failed prohibitionist policy, the law can be changed. Prostitution is legal in many countries, and to a degree in Nevada (depending on county).

    It’s not an outlandish idea. But the judge is probably right — under PRESENT law — to continue this make-work policy for police, prison guards, attorneys, prosecutors and pimps (pimps aren’t needed if prostitution is legalized).

    Reply this comment
    • Standing Fast
      Standing Fast 18 April, 2016, 12:38

      This is the same technicality that made both Dred Scott and Kelo famous. The question in this matter of legalizing prostitution in California rests on whether current law is just or unjust. My view of justice hangs on the ancient Rule of Law tradition that says there is a Higher Law that governs the Universe to which we are all held accountable, that Virtue is voluntary obedience to that Higher Law, that Virtue is the road to Happiness, that the Happiness of the People is supreme law, that man’s laws must conform to the Higher Law or they are unjust. Ancient Greeks thought that the only code of morality capable of producing Liberty and keeping it is Mosaic Law (Ten Commandments, Golden Rule). If you want an exercise in logic, contemplate the consequences to individuals and society when everyone voluntarily obeys these commandments to the best of their ability, and what happens when nobody obeys them or pays a price when they do. Peace.

      Reply this comment
  5. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 12 April, 2016, 08:22

    A few years ago I was visiting Zurich, Switzerland, walking down a cold, rainy street with my black umbrella deployed, lost in thought. It was about 10 PM-after dark- and I just wanted to get back to my hotel and sleep off the jet lag. I heard a sharp rapping sound-insistent-I stopped and looked up, and there on the second floor was one of Zurich’s sex workers sitting in the window, gesturing for me to come in. Quite clean and good looking, btw…It turned out I was in the red light district, two blocks from the university. Prostitution: licensed, tested, regulated and safe for johns AND workers. So what exactly is WRONG with us americans? Why are we so disgusted and freaked out by normal aspects of the human condition? Which then, paridoxically, leads us to being confronted in the most disturbing way with the things we try to supress? Another example: the complete lack of public restrooms in american cities, which can lead you to being confronted on any given day with the sight of a homeless person taking a crap on the sidewalk in broad daylight. You don’t see this anywhere else in the world, not even in MUMBAI, yet it’s a daily occurrence in San Francisco….Our media is saturated with sickening porn and violence yet we continue with our heads shoved firmly up our safe little neo-puritanical asses….

    Reply this comment
  6. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 12 April, 2016, 08:28

    How is Teddy Steals going to make a living if prostitution remains unlawful?

    Reply this comment
    • SkippingDog
      SkippingDog 12 April, 2016, 12:29

      When are you going to pay the attorneys fees that the court ordered, Rex?

      Reply this comment
      • Donkey
        Donkey 16 April, 2016, 16:41

        When are you going to stop defending the two murderers of Ashley MacDonald Skdog? As a RAGWUS feeder, you are the lowest form of life. Randle and Parker both belong in the Prison Industrial Complex you helped create! 🙂

        Reply this comment
  7. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 17 April, 2016, 19:33

    Why don’t you help Rex pay the attorneys fees he owes for his frivolous lawsuits? I’m sure he’d be very grateful to you.

    Reply this comment

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