SIGNIFICANCE: TUNICK V. SAFIR

Case NameTunick v. Safir 
Citation: 228 F.3d 135 (2d Cir. 2000) 
TopicsObscenity; Public Forum

A lower court granted a preliminary injunction against Safir and the City of New York to prevent them from interfering with a photo shoot of between 75 to 100 nude models between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning in a residential Manhattan neighborhood. In this case Safir and the City of New York sought to nullify the preliminary injunction, essentially asking for the court’s permission to prohibit the photographic session because New York law criminalized public nudity.

 

 

Tunick, the photographer, asserted that:

  • State public nudity laws did not prohibit the photo shoot because they contained an exception for “any person entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment.” That is, a public showing of a work of art.
  • The prevention of the photo shoot would be an unconstitutional prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment, causing him irreparable harm.

The court agreed that the city could not interfere with Tunick’s photo shoot because Tunick showed he would incur irreparable injury if he could not conduct the photo shoot and he was likely to succeed with his claim that this exhibition fell within one of the exceptions to the state law prohibiting public nudity. It did, however, reserve judgment on whether or not Tunick could be arrested after the photshoot.

To see Spencer Tunick’s work, visit www.spencertunick.com.

These materials are not intended, and should not be used, as legal advice. They necessarily contain generalizations that are not applicable in all jurisdictions or circumstances. Moreover, court decisions may be superseded by subsequent rulings, and may be subject to alternative interpretations. Corrections, clarification, and additions are welcome here.