Historic Decision by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds California’s Prostitution Law

NCOSE Press Statement logo

Washington, DC – The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit today handed down a unanimous decision in the case of Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLERP) v. Gascón upholding California’s prostitution law. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of itself and several other anti-sexual exploitation organizations, some led by survivors of prostitution, in support of the state. The brief urged the court to recognize prostitution as inherently dehumanizing and harmful and uphold the state law.

“Today’s unanimous decision is a historic moment in the movement for freedom from sexual exploitation, and most of all, for victims and survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking,” said Patrick Trueman, President of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and co-author of the amicus brief. “The court has powerfully voiced that prostitution is not a form of work as the plaintiffs alleged, but rather a commercial activity riddled with dangers that the state has a “substantial interest” in preventing—most notably violence against women and sex trafficking of women and children.

“Prostituted persons suffer physical and sexual violence, psychological trauma, and risk disease and life-threatening injuries. Dehumanizing treatment is an everyday reality for victims of this form of sexual exploitation. Overturning California’s prostitution law would not negate this degrading reality, but rather, affirm it. We are grateful that today the Court recognized the inherent harms of prostitution, because sexual exploitation should be nobody’s job.”

For further background on ESPLERP v. Gascón, click here. For more information on NCOSE’s work on the issue of prostitution, visit our Bright Light on the Red Light project page. To read the Court’s opinion, click here

The Numbers


NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.



Survivor Lawsuit Against Twitter Moves to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Survivors’ $12.7M Victory Over Explicit Website a Beacon of Hope for Other Survivors

Instagram Makes Positive Safety Changes via Improved Reporting and Direct Message Tools

Sharing experiences may be a restorative and liberating process. This is a place for those who want to express their story.

Support Dignity

There are more ways that you can support dignity today, through an online gift, taking action, or joining our team.

Defend Human Dignity. Donate Now.

Defend Dignity.
Donate Now.