May 26th, 2009
05:21 PM ET

Sotomayor banned artist's nude photo shoot – see why

Editor's Note: In 1999, Judge Sonia Sotomayor ended a controversial nude photo shoot of 100 people in New York arranged by artist Stanley Tunick.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/26/art.spencertunick.jpg caption="A 2007 Tunick installation in Mexico City."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/26/art.spencertunick2.jpg caption="A 2006 Tunick installation at the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art in Venezuela."]


According to The New York Times, the city had argued that Mr. Tunick's plan should be stopped because he would be attracting a large number of nude models to a residential area. The ruling superseded an earlier decision from the United States District Court in Manhattan, which ruled in favor of the artist, finding that artistic nude photography is a form of expression protected by the First Amendment as well by state law.

Lawyers for the city, however, said the presence of 100 nude people would infringe on neighborhood residents' right to privacy. The 2nd circuit ruled in favor of the City.

But the ruling also had political implications for then Mayor Rudy Giuliani. See more on the case here.

So why was the nude photo shoot so controversial? Take a look for yourself. See more of the artist's installations here.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Sonia Sotomayor
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. GH

    Though I believe in freedom of speech and artistic expression, I also feel neighborhood children shouldn't have to see adults nude. Sorry, but I support the judge's decision. I do hope one day the U.S. will mature enough emotionally and sexually to where it finds a way to teach its children, and some adults, that nudity isn't ugly or "dirty."

    May 26, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  2. SLM

    After reading some of her decisions, I think she is not a good pick for the supreme court. Way too opinionated to be unbiased and follow the law.

    May 26, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    If I used that park or lived near it I would have been very grateful to the Judge for ruling against the assemblage of so many nude people. I have children and I would rather them not get their anatomy lessons from a bunch of naked people in the streets. I wouldn't care much to see it either, truth be known....

    May 26, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
  4. Jim M

    Much adoo about nothing!

    Judge Sotomayor was one of three judges on the Second Circuit panel who, in 1999, issued a stay on a lower court's order granting permission for the nude photo shoot. The stay was issued because the court did not want to rush into such an important constitutional decision.

    In 2000 the Second Circuit (judges: VanGraafeldland, Calabresi & Sack) issued their final decision on the matter – and the US Supreme Court refused to hear any appeal.

    That final decision 2:1 (Justice VanGraafeland discenting) said the photographer did have the right under the Constitution to conduct the nude photo shoot.

    May 26, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  5. Melissa

    In a country where sex is made into something so disgusting that its something thats supposed to be hidden and considered disgusting, she made the right decision. For gods sakes, have you ever watched Family Guy and seen them bleep out or change anything offensive? People need to chill out. But this is the US and the US is ruled by (or at least they think they rule it and have a hissy fit every time things don't go their way) religious extremists who think sex is disgusting.

    She did the right thing. For whatever its worth.

    May 26, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  6. Heidi Ann Berg

    I think it kinda looks cool

    May 26, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  7. Kristi


    May 26, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  8. Paige DePoe

    Using the human body as an art form is centuries old. For an artist to recognize and appreciate the tonal variations in flesh tones, and incorporate the similarity of form and curvature to create endless texture and variation is not an abomination. This artist's work is not intended, in my opinion, to debase the participants, nor offend people neighboring the chosen "canvas". If there is less opposition to a tasteful art work in an effort to make it offensive..It then becomes and interesting and different glimpse into another creative individuals' work. Project finshed: models clothed and move on.

    May 26, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  9. Kristi

    Why should people have to go out of their way to avoid a place they would normally go just so that a bunch of naked people could take a picture? Seriously, how many photos of mass nudity does Stanley Tunick need anyway?
    Regardless, I wouldn't mind if he took his pictures from a place that wasn't public, but it's clearly offensive to people and I'm sure it's particularly offensive to those with small children. I absolutely agree with the ruling. people shouldn't have to accomodate for Stanley Tunick's photo shoot, period. Despite how great his artistic vision might be, there is no justification for infinging on the rights of others.

    May 26, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  10. Jo

    There's nothing wrong w/ an artist expressing himself. If the project had some redeeming reason for being public, fine. Personally, I dont want to walk down my street and come across 100 naked people. I deserve the right not to see it. And what about children? How can that be rationalized? There's nothing wrong w/ the human body and I dont consider this pornography(not even close!), but some naked bodies are not that "beautiful". I'll keep my clothes on in public, thank you.

    May 26, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  11. Michelle - St Augustine, FL

    Anyone that has taken an art class knows that the fact that the model is nude is of no notice. The artist does not look at the fact that the model has no clothes but of the shapes,shadows, textures, curves and lines that are presented. Having taking such a course the nudity is of no concern when you are working on a project. There is nothing wrong with the nude form. But you run into the not in my backyard senerio. And they do have the right to privacy. So i guess she might have been judging in the best intrest of the public at large vs the artist which happens sometimes.

    May 26, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  12. Luci

    It's just nudity, jeeze. It's not lewd or indecent, it's the human body! Are you going to ban anatomy books too?

    May 26, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  13. Allen Payton

    Community standards must be taken into consideration when dealing with nudity, and what some can legitimately consider pornography. Art is one thing, but when it's in view of the public, then other factors come into play. The artist's rights are limited by the rights of those who might be forced to view the "art" he/she is either attempting to produce or display.

    May 26, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  14. pat

    i think it's spencer tunick, not stanley.

    i took part in a tunick shoot, and personally don't think that this form of public nudity is problematic. it's done in a controlled way, hardly gratuitous. if anything, i think the large group presence and the amount of organization involved gives the local people plenty of warning about the situation, which they may avoid if they choose to do so.

    May 26, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  15. Scott Stodden

    I feel Sonia Sotomayor's decesion was the right ruling to make, people do not need to other people butt naked, its not appropiate and is a violation of people's right to privacy. Nudity should be kept in porn movies, in the privacy of your own home, or in the bedroom not in front of everyone so everyone can see.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport, IL)

    May 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  16. slee

    I don't understand what it is about the nude human body that I so controversial. People need to lighten up. A a lot.

    May 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  17. bonnie Noel

    I think the media needs to bring up the last 2 court confirmations. These justices refused to answer questions that they deemed too controversial. They were not forced to answer.

    May 26, 2009 at 3:45 pm |