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9th Circuit rules United States of America Pageants free to express views celebrating women

ADF attorneys represent beauty pageant in victorious ruling preserving production’s ability to advance opportunities for women

PORTLAND, Ore. – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled Wednesday that a female-only beauty pageant has the freedom to produce pageants designed to celebrate women. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent United States of America Pageants and defended the pageant’s freedom to communicate messages consistent with its values as a female-only pageant.

In Green v. Miss United States of America, a male who identifies as female sued the pageant under an Oregon public-accommodations law after learning that the pageant allows only women to participate in the live and broadcasted event. By ruling for the pageant, the 9th Circuit recognized that compelling the pageant to allow males in its all-female production would violate the First Amendment by changing the pageant’s message that celebrates women consistent with the pageant’s views on womanhood.

“Ignoring the biological reality that men and women are different harms women and their opportunities to compete, excel, and win—from female athletes sidelined in their own sports to women competing in beauty pageants on the national stage,” said ADF Senior Counsel Christiana Kiefer. “Forcing the pageant to include a male would change the message of what it means to be a woman—similar to how changing the casting choices in the Hamilton production would alter its message. We’re pleased the 9th Circuit recognized United States of America Pageants’ free-speech right to give women the chance to perform in beauty pageants designed to promote women.”

“As with theater [and] cinema, … beauty pageants combine speech with live performances such as music and dancing to express a message,” the court wrote in its decision. The court further explained that “allowing for the inclusion of even a single non-biological female as a ‘woman’ would certainly be an expressive decision revising the Pageant’s definition” of what it means to be a woman.

In its opinion, the 9th Circuit also said the plaintiff sought “to use the power of the state to force Miss United States of America to express a message contrary to what it desires to express. The First Amendment says no.”

John Kaempf, one of more than 4,600 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, is serving as co-counsel in the case on behalf of United States of America Pageants.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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Christiana Kiefer
Christiana Kiefer
Senior Counsel
Christiana (Holcomb) Kiefer serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is a key member of the Center for Conscience Initiatives.