A federal appeals court today reinstated a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Virginia challenging a Virginia law requiring parental supervision at summer camps for juvenile nudists. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the American Association for Nude Recreation-Eastern Region (AANR) could pursue its claim that the 2004 state law violates its constitutional right to free expression and association.
AANR had to cancel a summer camp last summer in southeast Virginia because only 11 of the 35 youths who signed up would have been able to bring a parent as required by the law.
“A regulation that reduces the size of a speaker’s audience can constitute an invasion of a legally protected interest,” Judge William B. Traxler Jr. wrote in the unanimous ruling in White Tail Park v. Stroube (available online at: http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/042002.P.pdf).
“We are over the legal technicalities now and can proceed with our argument that the state of Virginia had no right to prevent parents from sending their children to these well-run, heavily supervised camps,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis.
U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams ruled last August that the lawsuit was moot because the organizers of the camp at White Tail Park in Ivor surrendered their state permit for the camp after the law took effect on July 1, 2004. The appeals court affirmed Williams’ ruling that White Tail Park and six parents who wanted to send their children to the camp lacked standing to sue. The parents’ claim was moot because the camp date had passed, the court said, and nothing in the record explained White Tail’s interest in educating juvenile nudist campers.
However, the court said the regional nudist organization, which designed and would have conducted the camp, had a case because it wanted to conduct future juvenile nudist camps in Virginia.
“Our plaintiff line-up may be a little different now,” said ACLU of Virginia legal director Rebecca Glenberg , “ but we will still be able to make the same constitutional arguments in court.”
A summer nudist camp for children ages 11 through 17 was conducted at White Tail Park in 2003. Virginia’s General Assembly found out about the camp and passed the legislation requiring a parent, grandparent or legal guardian to accompany each participant, scuttling plans for the 2004 camp at the Ivor park.
(Note: Some of the contents of this press release were taken from an Associate Press release.)
Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022