Virginia Joins Assault on Low-Riding Pants

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Last year I (among many others) reported on the Louisiana low-pants legislation, which would have criminalized the wearing of pants that ride low enough to expose underwear. Actually, the exact definition of the offense went through a variety of iterations, not surprisingly, before that bill finally died.

But it was such a great idea that Virginia has now jumped on the bandwagon. Virginia House Bill 1981, which passed the Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday, would impose a $50 fine on anyone “who, while in a public place, intentionally wears and displays his below-waist undergarments, intended to cover a person’s intimate parts, in a lewd and indecent manner.”

As with the Louisiana bill, the language is inartful enough to pose a number of questions right off the bat. For example, could one defend such a charge by arguing that he or she had worn below-waist undergarments unintentionally? Are there below-waist undergarments that are not intended to cover a person’s intimate parts, and if there are (okay, there are), why would it be okay to display those but not to display more conservative below-waist undergarments?

Look for more amendments to this bill as the story unfolds.

In the debate on Tuesday, Delegate Lionell Spruill opposed the bill and pleaded with his colleagues to remember how they had dressed as youngsters. (The report did not elaborate.) He called the measure unconstitutional and said “[t]his is a foolish bill, Mr. Speaker, because it will hurt so many.”

The bill was approved 60-34 and now goes to the state Senate. So that happened.