FIRST AMENDMENT CENTER.ORG
JULY 6, 2005
RICHMOND, Va. — A federal appeals court yesterday reinstated a lawsuit challenging a Virginia law requiring parental supervision at a summer camp 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 could pursue its claim that the law violates its free-speech rights by crimping its ability to spread its social nudism philosophy.
The organization claims it 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.
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.
“What we’ve got is our case reinstated, maybe with a little different plaintiff lineup,” said the nudists’ lawyer, Rebecca Glenberg of the American Civil Liberties Union. “We will still be able to make the same constitutional arguments.”
Emily Lucier, spokeswoman for the Virginia attorney general’s office, said: “We are disappointed with the court’s ruling, but we expect to win at trial.”
A summer nudist camp for children ages 11 through 17 was conducted at White Tail Park in 2003. It was the first camp for nude juveniles in Virginia and only the third in the country, according to its sponsors.
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.