Artist: Janette Hopper and Sharon Rupp
Confronting Bodies: City of Pasco, Washington
Date of Action: 1996
Specific Location: Pasco City Hall Gallery
Description of Artwork: Rupp’s bronze sculpture depicted a woman “mooning” the viewer, and was titled "To the Republicans, Democrats and Bi-Partisans." Hopper’s block prints showed a nude Adam and Eve touring sites in Germany.
Description of Incident: City officials excluded the works from the exhibition at the City Hall gallery referring to its “noncontroversial” art policy. However, they provided no guidelines as to what was “controversial” and had not previously instituted the practice of screening art for acceptability.
Results of Incident: The artists, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and supported by the National Coalition Against Censorship and First Amendment Project, sued the city. In 2001, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that artists Sharon Rupp and Janette Hopper’s First Amendment rights were violated when the city of Pasco excluded their artwork from the exhibition. The Court rejected the city’s arguments that the censorship was justified on the basis that children might have seen the pieces. The court noted, “The mere fact that the works caused controversy is, of course, patently insufficient to justify their suppression.”
Source: First Amendment Project, NCAC
Submitted By: NCAC
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