Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Alabama Authority Proposes Baggy Pants Ban Because God

God is talking to authorities in Alabama about fashion. A Dadeville councilman is proposing a dress code that bans baggy pants because "I prayed about this. I know God would not go around with his pants down."

Colleagues supported Frank Goodman's proposal, introduced at a Dadeville City Council meeting last month. But this week, one council member concerned about fairness added a new wrinkle to the dress code proposal, local paper Alex City Outlook reported.

In All Fairness for Pants Saggers

"My concern is it should be for everybody," City Council member Stephanie Kelley said. "I think for the girls, with these shorts up so high looking like under garments and dresses so short, I don't want us to be showing favoritism."

Town attorney Robin Reynolds plans to draft a fair and balanced ban by the next meeting. "If the council wants me to write in something for the females -- it will take a little more creativity on my part," he said.

What Is Cool?

Goodman, the councilman who proposed the ban on baggy pants explained that his ban on "slacking" is about respect. "I think slacking is disrespectful ... [I]t gives our younger generation the wrong impression of what is cool."

"We have a lot of older people here who don't want to see it. A lot of middle-aged people don't want to see it either. They don't want to see anybody walking around with their pants down with underwear that is showing."

But this issue has already been debated in the Florida courts in a case arising out of a similar ban on baggy pants in Riviera Beach in 2009. The Palm Beach County Public Defender's Office successfully challenged the ordinance, arguing that its enforcement violated principles of freedom of expression and the right to due process and focused exclusively on young black men. The defense's main witness in the case was a fashion instructor at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.

Oh Wait! Separation of Church and State

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits making laws respecting an establishment of religion or restricting free religious exercise. The phrase "separation of church and state" was used by Thomas Jefferson and other founders when discussing the intent of the Amendment and has since been adopted often by the Supreme Court.

In other words, despite what Frank Goodman may pray, laws in this country cannot be based on personal religious conviction or conversations with God. It's possibly time for this Alabama councilman to consider the Constitution. It's a question of respect.

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