So by now, many of you have probably heard about the Crawford County court bailiff who reprimanded and booted out of the courtroom a woman who was breastfeeding her baby. (The woman was there to testify in a court case.) The bailiff said breastfeeding was too “distracting.”
Arkansas law stipulates that a woman may nurse in a public place. And really, you can’t get much more public than a courtroom, for pete’s sake.
I guess what puzzles me most is that as a reporter, I’ve spent a lot of time in many courtrooms. I’ve been alternately amused and appalled by the revealing outfits a surprising number of women choose to wear when going before a judge. We’re talking about some serious cleave. We’re talking about boobs that are one bend-over away from springing free from shirts. We’re talking about braless women who really oughta shoulda consider reining in the girls in when in public.
And yet a woman nursing discreetly is “distracting?”
What really annoys me is that few will take a stance on the issue. The judge didn’t have a problem with the bailiff’s actions. The state attorney general’s office says only that no one has ever questioned legally whether a courtroom is indeed a public venue. I can’t come up with a scathing enough response for that one, because hello? The concept of open court means — duh — that the court is open to the — wait for it … public.
When northwest Arkansas’ Channel 5 asked the AG’s office whether a courtroom was a public place, this is the response the station received: “We are not aware of any Arkansas cases that have addressed this issue.”
Well here you go, guys. Let’s settle it now.
Because Arkansas, we clearly have a long, long way to go.