The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that a naked peace demonstrator must pay her own attorney fees. The plaintiff, T.A. Wyner, is a naturist and outdoorswoman who wanted to put on a nude peace protest at the park on Valentine's Day.
But the state of Florida told Wyner that she would have to abide by its bathing suit rule, which, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in the court's opinion, requires that patrons wear, at minimum, a thong, and if female, a bikini top.
Wyner went to court to challenge the rule, noting that she had previously won the right to put on nude performances — as long as they were screened off from beach-goers. A federal judge had ruled she could go ahead on Valentine's Day in 2003, as long as the protest was similarly screened off.
The nude performers, however, didn't exactly live by the rules. The nudists assembled to form a peace symbol outside the barrier, and when they disassembled, some went skinny-dipping.
When the judge later considered Wyner's request for a permanent rule allowing nude protests, the judge nixed it.
The question before the Supreme Court wasn't whether to wear a bathing suit, or whether nude artwork is permissible on state property. It was whether, under federal law, Wyner's lawyers were entitled to attorneys' fees, since they won for her at the initial stage of the litigation.
The lower courts said that the lawyers were entitled to $25,000, to be paid by the state of Florida. But the Supreme Court unanimously disagreed, since at the end of the fray, Florida prevailed in the suit.
The state's bathing suit rule remained intact; under the statute that she sued under, Wyner leaves the courthouse empty-handed.