Naked violinist takes nude protest case before federal judges

Naked violinist takes nude protest case before federal judges

For 50 minutes Thursday, a group of judges considered the case of a man who stripped naked outside the federal courthouse in downtown Portland, played violin beside the engraving of a Thomas Jefferson quote and then sat for hours on the ground before his arrest.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal peppered lawyers for Matthew Mglej and the city of Portland with questions about what Oregon law allows when it comes to protesting nude and exactly what message Mglej was trying to send.

Mglej's lawyer Matthew Gordon argued that Portland police wrongfully arrested his client on May 23, 2014, because the city's indecent exposure ordinance protects nudity intended as a symbolic "communicative act'' or protest. He cited a 1985 Oregon Court of Appeals case in support.

Mglej was charged with violating the city ordinance that forbids people from exposing their genitalia in public and in the presence of the opposite sex. State prosecutors later dismissed the charges. Mglej then took the city to federal court, but a trial judge dismissed Mglej's claims against the city, leading to his appeal.

"Is it really your position if you're intending to communicate something, you may stand naked in the public square in Portland, even as children walk by ?'' Circuit Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz asked.

Source: Oregon LIve