Ninth Circuit Court Rules Miss USOA Pageant Can Exclude Males

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The Miss United States of America (USOA) pageant has a rule that only natural women are allowed to compete. But when “Anita” Green’s application for the pageant was denied and his funds reimbursed, he sued the pageant.


While other pageants, such as the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, have allowed biological males who “identify” as women to compete against real women, the Miss USOA pageant specifically requires that contestants are natural-born females.

The pageant argued that it has a First Amendment right to free association, and allowing males who identify as transgender women would “undermine its vision”  of “empowering only biological women.”

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His lawsuit was dismissed last year, but Green persisted. Now, his latest effort to force himself into the women’s pageant has been denied. On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court’s prior ruling and sided with the pageant, again on First Amendment grounds. “The district court held that the First Amendment protected the Pageant’s expressive association rights to exclude a person who would impact the group’s ability to express its views,” the opinion summary explains. “The panel agreed that summary judgment for the Pageant was correct, but reached this conclusion not under the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of association but rather under the First Amendment’s protection against compelled speech.”

The panel held that the First Amendment, which ensures that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” extends its protections to theatrical productions. Beauty pageants fall comfortably within this ambit. The panel noted that it is commonly understood that beauty pageants are generally designed to express the “ideal vision of American womanhood.” The panel held that the Pageant’s message cannot be divorced from the Pageant’s selection and evaluation of contestants. The Pageant would not be able to communicate “the celebration of biological women” if it were forced to allow Green to participate. The First Amendment affords the Pageant the ability to voice this message and to enforce its “natural born female” rule.


Attorney John Kaempf, who represents the Miss United States of America pageant and its Christian owner, Tanice Smith, celebrated the ruling.

“The Ninth Circuit’s opinion today is firmly supported by United States Supreme Court precedent and common sense,” Kaempf told PJ Media. “The Ninth Circuit ruled that my client ‘would not be able to communicate “the celebration of biological women” if it were forced to allow Green to participate.'”

Kaempf added, “The Ninth Circuit’s conclusion says it all: ‘Green asks 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.'”


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