Appleby v. Bowser - Liberty Justice Center

Appleby v. Bowser

The District of Columbia currently allows dancing in exotic establishments, in Zumba and dance-studio classes, and in programs sponsored by the government’s Department of Parks and Recreation. However, the Mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser, on May 1, 2021, used her emergency executive orders to outlaw dancing at weddings.

Many couples, eager to follow all required and appropriate protocols, have been doing everything they can in order to have a safe wedding amidst the COVID-19. Margaret Appleby and her fiancé are one of those couples who took those steps, including getting vaccinated. Margaret Appleby had intended on having her wedding with masked dancing, but under new rules implemented by Mayor Bowser, this is no longer permitted.

In March 2020, the couple booked a venue for their wedding to take place in June 2021. Mayor Bowser subsequently issued a series of executive orders aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. However, Mayor Bowser’s latest Order is inconsistent with restrictions placed on other venues. The District of Columbia currently allows exercise classes and dance studios to operate in a group format while being subject to social distancing requirements. The District even allows exotic dancing establishments to operate, with performers both dancing on stage and interacting with guests.

Mayor Bowser’s Order implementing a complete ban on a category of expressive activity is a clear First Amendment violation. Therefore, Margaret Appleby is suing Mayor Muriel Bowser for violating her First Amendment rights to expression and association. Attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center are representing Appleby and her fiancé. They’ve filed a complaint against Mayor Bowser asking a federal court to take action and prevent this Order from being enforced.


Appleby v. Bowser was filed May 10, 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center and Hamilton Lincoln Law Center.


Complaint 05/10/2021

Mayoral Order 05/17/2021

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