Argument is over standing to pursue litigation, not merits of the lawThe ACLU of Virginia announced today that will appeal a federal judge’s dismissal of its case challenging a new Virginia law that bans nudist camps for teenagers when their parents are not present.
Representing three families and a nudist camp in Ivor, the ACLU first sought to have the law put on hold in July in order that a teen camp planned for late July could proceed as planned. At that time the judge refused to issue a temporary order preventing the law from taking effect. This week, the judge dismissed the case on a technicality, claiming that the plaintiffs no longer had standing to sue because the permit application of the camp had been withdrawn after the judge’s adverse ruling in July.
The ACLU filed notice with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals of its intent to appeal. A federal judge will hear arguments tomorrow in case challenging a new Virginia law that bans nudist camps for juveniles. Lawyers for the ACLU of Virginia are seeking an order from the U.S. District Court in Richmond to allow a juvenile nudist camp scheduled for July 24-31 to go forward as planned.
Responding to the convening of Virginia’s first teen nudist camp--held at White Tail Park in Ivor last summer-- the 2004 General Assembly approved a bill banning nudist camps attended by minors without their parents. Introduced by Delegate Jack Reid, the bill passed the Senate unanimously and the House by a 98-2 margin.
“We hope,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis, “that the court will see this law for what it is--an attempt by the state to interfere with the right of parents to make fundamental lifestyle choices for their families.”
“The only conceivable rationale that legislators could have had for passing this law was to protect teenagers from harm,” added Willis. “But no evidence was offered that there is anything harmful about teen nudist camps. To the contrary, the report on the camp held in Virginia and on the numerous other camps held over the years in other parts of the country is that they are wholesome, beneficial summertime events for teens.”
According to the ACLU, the teen nudist camp in Ivor is heavily supervised by carefully screened adults. Teens may not attend without permission from their parents. White Tail Park operates under strict rules that prohibit “intimate contact, suggestive behavior, overt sexuality or sexually provocative behavior.”
The ACLU asserts that the new Virginia law violates the constitutional rights of privacy and association, and the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.
The law does not prevent minors from attending nudist camps, but requires their parents or legal guardians to be present when they do.
Three families, including parents and their minor children, are plaintiffs in the case, along with White Tail Park and the American Association for Nude Recreation-Eastern Region. The children all intend to participate in this year’s camp.
ACLU of Virginia Contacts: Kent Willis, Executive Director Rebecca Glenberg, Legal Director 804-644-8022