…New Hampshire’s highest court upheld the conviction of three women who were arrested for going topless on a beach, finding their constitutional rights were not violated.In a 3-2 ruling, the court decided that Laconia’s ordinance does not discriminate on the basis of gender or violate the women’s right to free speech.
Citing rulings by several other courts, Associate Justice Anna Barbara Hantz Marconi wrote that courts “generally upheld laws that prohibit women but not men from exposing their breasts against equal protection challenges.”“We have found that the ordinance does not violate the defendants’ constitutional rights to equal protection or freedom of speech under the State and Federal Constitutions,” Marconi wrote. “As such, it does not unduly restrict the defendants’ fundamental rights. Accordingly, we agree with the trial court that the City had the authority to enact the ordinance.”
In a dissenting opinion, Associate Justice James P. Bassett with Senior Associate Justice Gary E. Hicks concluded the ordinance was unconstitutional because it treats men and women different. You can access the 3-to-2 ruling of the Supreme Court of New Hampshire at this link.