Can Kansas women go topless? Supreme Court leaves it unclear

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FILE – In this June 17, 2019 file photo, the Supreme Court in Washington. The Supreme Court will not review an appellate decision that makes it harder for cities to keep homeless people from sleeping on the streets. The justices on Monday did not comment as they left in place a ruling that struck down a Boise, Idaho, ordinance. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Supreme Court’s decision not to consider topless bans leaves a ruling in place that technically allows Kansas women to go topless. But a local political science professor said the legality of it is complicated.

On Monday the United States Supreme Court decided not to review a challenge to a New Hampshire ordinance banning women to be topless.

In 2016 three women were arrested for doing yoga topless on a New Hampshire beach. When they appealed their convictions the New Hampshire Supreme Court rejected the challenge, meaning tops on for women.

In 2019 the same issue went to court in Colorado, but a federal appeals court shot down the topless ban. Kansas is part of that appeal court’s jurisdiction.

Emporia State University political science professor Michael Smith said that doesn’t necessarily mean Kansas women are free to go topless.

“If there are state laws or local ordinances, and there are, against going topless for women in Kansas, the local police may choose to enforce those or arrest them and give them a ticket,” Smith said.

It could take more court rulings to really decide the issue.

“They could argue that under the 10th circuit ruling, which includes the territory of Kansas, that law should be overturned,” Smith said, “But the city could turn around and argue that New Hampshire’s ban was not overturned by the Supreme Court, and there would probably have to be an additional ruling.”

Just this October the Manhattan City Commission decided to amend the city code to allow females to go topless.

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