CA Bucks Against Prostitution Law Fight

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s law against prostitution fails to state a claim, the state’s attorney general Kamala Harris says.
     Lead plaintiff Erotic Service Provider Legal, Education & Research Project, a San Francisco-based advocacy group, sued Harris and district attorneys of four counties in March claiming that prosecuting sex that is “part of a voluntary commercial exchange between adults” violates the state and federal constitutions.
     Plaintiff K.L.E.S. claimed in the suit that she “has been licensed to provide sexual activity for hire to consenting adults in Nevada” and would like to work where she lives in northern California. Prostitution and the solicitation of prostitution are misdemeanors in the Golden State.
     The plaintiffs allege violations of their constitutional rights to due process, free speech and freedom of association, among others.
     In her motion to dismiss the complaint, Harris said that “there is no fundamental right to engage in prostitution or solicit prostitution.”
     She also said that the statute against prostitution “is rationally related to California’s interest in deterring human trafficking and coercion, violence against prostitutes, the spread of AIDS and venereal disease, and crimes incidental to prostitution, as well as California’s interest in deterring commodification [sic] of sex, and is facially constitutional.”
     “This case is not about whether the state can criminalize sex; it is about whether the state can criminalize the purchase and sale of sex,” Harris continued. “Once the liberty interest at stake is properly framed as the right to buy and sell sex, it is clear that the substantive due process does not protect it.”
     Harris said that, similarly, solicitation is not constitutionally protected speech and there is no associational right to engage in sex for hire since “prostitutes are not hired for their conversational skills,” and prostitution is primarily a commercial rather than expressive association.
     Nor can the plaintiffs state a claim for the deprivation of property or liberty interests, she said.
     “There is no allegation that the law has been enforced against plaintiffs in a constitutionally impermissible way,” she said. “The complaint also does not allege that the statute will be enforced against plaintiffs in a way that would render an otherwise valid law unconstitutional as applied to their particular circumstances.”
     The plaintiffs could not be reached for comment.
     Harris’ motion will be heard in Oakland on Aug. 7 before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White.

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