The cover of John Lennon’s 1968 record Two Virgins shocked the world by showing Lennon and Yoko Ono naked, which was an unheard of act of controversy for a popular celebrity at the time. Today, however, public nudity in the context of protest has become prevalent around the world. This trend holds true in the United States as well, as there are numerous examples of protesters utilizing nudity as a method of protest. Many groups have recognized that the utility of and prominent reasons for protesting nude include the ways in which it immediately garners attention, fosters discussion in the media, and places the protesters’ messages into the public sphere.
The recent phenomenon of protesting nude raises legal questions concerning conduct as protected speech and freedom of expression. The Supreme Court has recognized that not all forms of expressive conduct are protected as “speech” under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The act of protesting nude, however, is likely not protected under the First Amendment. Several court decisions have highlighted that utilizing nudity in protest is only protected under the First Amendment if the protester’s message is intertwined with the conduct itself. While protesting nude is likely not protected under the First Amendment that does not mean it is not otherwise protected. . .