Court rules against Everett bikini baristas, says free speech doesn't cover bare skin

EVERETT, Wash. - Bikini baristas would have to cover up in Everett under a ruling Wednesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, KOMO reports

The ruling reverses an earlier injunction by U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman, who ruled in late 2017 that new rules requiring baristas to cover up in the city of Everett were too vague and arbitrary. 

The court battle began when the Everett City Council enacted a new ordinance in August 2017. Under that ordinance, baristas were required to wear clothes -- at least tank tops and shorts. 

The council said the skimpy attire worn by baristas at bikini coffee stands encouraged crimes like lewd conduct and prostitution. The punishment would be up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. 

But, seven baristas and the owner of a the "Hillbilly Hotties" chain filed suit. They claimed the new rules were a free speech violation. 

The rules were suspended while the issue worked it way through the courts. But on Wednesday, the federal appeals court said serving coffee while nearly naked is not likely protected by the First Amendment - and sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings. 

KOMO reports the case is not technically over, but judges feel the baristas are highly unlikely to win. 

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