ESPLER Project Changes Strategy Over Challenge to Calif. Prostitution Statute

ESPLER Project Changes Strategy Over Challenge to Calif. Prostitution Statute

SAN FRANCISCO — ESPLER Project tonight said that it has changed its legal strategy and will no longer pursue an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of a recent appellate decision over California’s anti-prostitution law.

ESPLER Project, known to many also as the Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project, challenged the legality of California Penal Code 647(b), claiming it is unconstitutional. It sued the state of the California, seeking an injunction over its enforcement.

With that announcement today, the group also revealed a revamped legal strategy to challenge the constitutionality of the same law, but this time in the California state court system, “starting in Superior Court.”

Industry attorney Louis Sirkin said that a major reason to drop the challenge before U.S. Supreme Court was that Justice Anthony Kennedy was retiring.

“We were disappointed that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals missed an opportunity to declare that the Constitution protects the right of consenting adults to engage in private sexual activity,” Sirkin said in a statement. “We were also disappointed that their decision relied on a 1998 case (IDK Inc. v. Clark County), which has since been clearly superseded by Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case which struck down sodomy laws nationwide and established a constitutional right to sexual privacy.”

Phil Thomas, an ESPLER Project board member, said: “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. 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.”

Contributions to support ESPLER Project can be submitted through its crowd fundraiser,