Law Review: ‘Bikini baristas’ serving … coffee | SierraSun.com

Law Review: ‘Bikini baristas’ serving … coffee

If you think Starbucks is a friendly coffee-serving business establishment, consider Hillbilly Hotties, a bikini barista drive through kiosk in Everett, Washington.

HILLBILLY HOTTIE’S BIKINI BARISTAS

Hillbilly Hotties is a popular bikini barista stand in Everett where customers drive through to purchase coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages. Would I kid you?

The Baristas claim their modest attire is First Amendment free expression, demonstrating “female empowerment,” “confidence,” “fun and more open … we are empowered to be comfortable in our bodies” and “fearless body acceptance.” All protected by the First Amendment. Hmmm.

The City of Everett described the baristas as “nearly nude” and the outfits as “more revealing than the typical bikini … pasties … a thong with what appear to be garter belts …”

I guess like many things, it comes down to how you look at it.

EVERETT, WASHINGTON FIGHTS BACK

The City of Everett received over 40 complaints of sexual and criminal incidents and “after five years of using undercover operations to prosecute individual offenders,” which is curious in itself, Everett had enough and adopted a Lewd Conduct Ordinance and a Dress Code Ordinance, the latter specifically to address the bikini barista stands.

The lewd conduct ordinance described genitals and “the bottom half” and areolas and a lot more, nevertheless it was challenged as being unconstitutionally vague. The federal trial court ruled for the baristas. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, found the two ordinances not vague, sufficiently clear and Constitutional.

DEFINITION OF A ‘VAGRANT’ SIDEBAR

As precedent of vagueness, the Hillbilly Hotties Court cited a Florida ordinance which attempted to define “vagrant” which was found to be unconstitutionally vague. It is so outlandish I had to pass it on.

Here goes: Vagrant: “Rogues and vagabonds, or dissolute persons who go about begging, common gamblers, persons who use juggling or unlawful games or plays, common drunkards, common night walkers, thieves, pilferers or pickpockets, traders in stolen property, lewd, wanton lascivious persons, keepers of gambling places, common railers and brawlers, persons wandering or strolling around from place to place without any lawful purpose or object, habitual loafers, disorderly persons, persons neglecting all lawful business and habitually spending their time by frequenting houses of ill fame, gaming houses, or places where alcoholic beverages are sold or served, persons able to work but habitually living upon the earnings of their wives or minor children.”

I love it.

COURT RULING

The federal Court of Appeals eventually (appropriately) ruled against Hillbilly Hotties, finding the baristas intended messages related to empowerment and confidence were not sufficiently communicative to merit First Amendment free speech protection.

There’s always Starbucks.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOA’s, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or http://www.portersimon.com.