NEWS & ANALYSIS

SUIT & TIE: Bride-to-Be Files Lawsuit to End D.C. Ban on Wedding Dancing


Following a new COVID-19 restriction banning wedding dancing in Washington D.C., the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute and the Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of bride-to-be Margaret Appleby. 

The lawsuit, challenging D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s executive order, argues that the dance-ban goes against the First Amendment. 

“The First Amendment does not permit the District to irrationally discriminate against wedding dancing, while simultaneously allowing equally dangerous, though less expensive, activities to continue without remark,” said Adam Schulman, a senior attorney with the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute. 

“The order is hopelessly arbitrary, unscientific, and divorced from the current realities of the pandemic,” said Theodore H. Frank, Director of Litigation and senior attorney with the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute. “There are any number of less burdensome avenues that would allow the District to protect its interest in public health while still allowing wedding dancing.” 

The lawsuit cites the movie Footloose, adding that because D.C. “allows dancing in strip clubs, in Zumba and dance-studio classes, and in programs sponsored by the government’s Department of Parks and Recreation,” weddings should have the same opportunity. 

“Margaret Appleby sues to end this irrational and unscientific state of affairs,” the lawsuit continues. 

As previously reported by Human Events News, the order instructs indoor and outdoor weddings to be capped at 25 percent capacity. In order to have more than 250 people, you must obtain a waiver. 

Margaret’s wedding is scheduled for early June. She hopes to win an order from the federal district court in D.C. declaring the prohibition on dancing to be unconstitutional. 

In an interview with Human Events, Frank discussed the lawsuit more in depth. 

When asked if he thought there was any rationale behind restricting dancing at weddings but not in Zumba classes or at adult clubs, Frank responded: “Not really. I think this is just a group of ignorant public officials trying to impose arbitrary rules on people. They want to be able to shut things down but not everyone is going to accept it. Wedding planners don’t have a lobbying group. They are an easy target.”

When asked how a dancing case can be a First Amendment case, Frank said “it falls under the heading of ‘expressive conduct’ which has been well-established by the courts as falling under the first amendment.” 

“Just like people have the right to burn the flag,” he said, “they have the right to dance.”

Frank also pointed out how these types of rules are counterproductive to getting Americans inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“These vaccinations are a miracle. Look at how well Israel is doing because of their high vaccination rate. When a government restricts people’s freedom even after a vaccination, they are reasonably left to ask ‘why should I bother’. It is counterproductive.”

The case was crafted by Adam Schulman, the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute’s First Amendment expert.