Court hears challenge to topless ban at Maryland beach

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FILE – This Feb. 4, 2021, file photo shows the beach coastline of Ocean City, N.J. A large offshore wind energy project planned off the coast of New Jersey would run cables from the wind farm to potentially three locations, including Ocean City. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court has heard arguments from advocates who want to overturn a local ordinance that bans women from going topless at the beach in Ocean City, Maryland.

The Washington Post reports that the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing a ruling last year that upheld Ocean City’s law barring women from going topless at the beach to protect “public sensibilities.”

The case began when five Maryland women sued the resort town over the 2017 law, saying it unfairly targets women in violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.

The ordinance makes public nudity a municipal infraction punishable by a fine of $1,000. Ocean City officials say the ordinance is necessary to maintain the town’s family-friendly character.

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