ESPLER Project Files Brief in Bid to Legalize Prostitution

ESPLER Project Files Brief in Bid to Legalize Prostitution

SAN FRANCISCO — The ESPLER Project on Friday filed a reply brief with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in its case challenging California's anti-prostitution law.

Today's filing by industry attorneys D. Gill Sperlein and H. Louis Sirkin asks the appeals panel to toss a lower court's judgment, remand the case to the lower court and declare the anti-prostitution law unconstitutionality. They also are seeking a permanent injunction.

An Oakland, Calif., federal judge last year dismissed the group's suit against California's attorney general and four district attorneys across the state that sought to have Penal Code 647(b) tossed.

The state successfully argued that California’s 55-year-old prostitution statute is a valid regulation of commerce that does not infringe upon any liberty interest of its citizens.

The federal judge determined that the "the intimate association between a prostitute and client, while it may be consensual and cordial, does not merited protection through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment."

Today, ESPLER Project — formally known as the Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project — said in its brief that the government should have no interests in prohibiting prostitution. 

“If the state is concerned about protecting society against the harms of real crimes like sex trafficking and rape, then those concerns justify legislation directed at sex trafficking and rape,” ESPLER Project’s brief read. “Indeed, the state already has significant legislation on those issues.

“If the state is concerned that supposedly risky sexual behaviors — for example, sex without a condom, sex with multiple partners — contribute to the spread of disease, then those concerns may justify the several public health initiatives already in place regarding those ‘risky sexual behaviors.’ 

“But none of these posited governmental interests justify the outright prohibition on giving or receiving anything of value in connection with sexual activity that is itself perfectly legal.”

The 9th Circuit didn’t indicate when they’d hear oral arguments in the case.  

Contributions to support ESPLER Project's court case can be submitted through its crowdfundraising site,

View ESPLER Project's brief