SW Legal studies in Business

Injunction Against Certain Actions by Prostitutes Does not Violate Constitutional Rights
Description Appeals court upheld the essence of an injunction the City of Milwaukee obtained against more then 100 women who had been arrested multiple times for prostitution activities. The women were restricted from the kind of activities usually involved in soliciting clients. These restrictions were not in violation of their rights to freedom of speech and association.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words Prostitution; Freedom of Association; Freedom of Speech
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Burnett and over 100 other women, who had been arrested various times for prostitution activities in Milwaukee, had an injunction entered against them by the trial court at the request of the city permanently enjoining them from engaging in activities in certain areas. The injunction stated that they were prohibited from "Engaging in, beckoning to stop, or engaging male or female passerby in conversation, or stopping or attempting to stop motor vehicle operators by hailing, waiving of arms or any other bodily gesture, or yelling in a loud voice" as well as soliciting for sex acts, loitering in certain locations, and so forth. The women appealed, contending it infringed on their right of association.

Affirmed in part. Prostitution is illegal in Wisconsin. The evidence is clear that the women in this case are involved in the activity, and they did not challenge that point. While certain parts of the injunction are vague and need to be corrected, in general the purpose of the injunction is valid and it stands. Freedom of association does not give one a licence to loiter in doorways, at bus stops or at pay phones. There is no right of association that involves yelling to try to get cars to stop, unless the cars contain family or friends. The restrictions on their "expressive association" is not a restriction on the right to assemble for peaceful political purposes. The right of free speech does not include the right to solicit strangers for sex. The state has the right to regulate such commercial activities.

Citation City of Milwaukee v. Burnette, 2001 WL 1183262 (Ct. App., Wish., 2001)

Back to Constitutional Law Listings

©1997-2002  SW Legal Studies in Business. All Rights Reserved.