Legal Team to Change Strategy in'ESPLERP v. Gascon'

SAN FRANCISCO—Today, the Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLERP) announced a change to its legal strategy in the case of ESPLERP v. Gascon, which challenges the constitutionality of Penal Code 647(b), California’s anti-prostitution law.

According to a statement released today, ESPLERP will no longer pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court of the Ninth Circuit Appellate Court’s decision in the case. The organization will instead pursue a revamped legal strategy to challenge the constitutionality of 647(b), but this time in the California state court system—starting in California Superior Court.

“We were disappointed that the Ninth Circuit missed an opportunity to declare that the Constitution protects the right of consenting adults to engage in private sexual activity,” said ESPLERP’s lead attorney, H. Louis Sirkin. “We were also disappointed that their decision relied on a 1998 case (IDK, Inc. v. Clark Cnty.), which has since been clearly superseded by Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case which struck down sodomy laws nationwide and established a constitutional right to sexual privacy.”

ESPLERP Board Member Phil Thomas noted, “With Justice Kennedy now retiring and no longer available to review his majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, an opinion that affirmed sexual privacy, and being the key cases underpinning our case, there are too many unknowns in the federal court system.”

Thomas continued, “With him gone, and whoever is appointed, we are assuming that the Supreme Court will swing significantly against civil rights in general. So we do not see the sense of filing an appeal to a hostile Supreme Court. Better to seek protection in the California State court system.”

Tomorrow morning, ESPLERP will host a press conference to explain the decision. Watch for coverage.

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