Naturist’s free exercise rights not violated by fencing of nude beach

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Wittbold v. Miami-Dade County, (SD FL, Aug. 31, 2012), a Florida federal district court dismissed without prejudice plaintiff’s claim that defendants violated his free exercise rights by limiting nude sunbathing to an area of a Florida beach they fenced in. Thomas Wittbold alleges religious discrimination because he cannot practice his religion of Naturism outside the fenced area, and claims that forcing him to worship in an artificially created restrictive area amounts to false imprisonment. The court concluded, however that “Plaintiff can exercise his religion within the nude beach.  Plaintiff does not allege how the fence or signs prevent him from exercising his religion.” The court also dismissed without prejudice plaintiff’s claim that he was discriminated against in violation of state law because he failed to allege that he had filed a complaint with the state’s Commission on Human Relations.