Saggy Pants Ban Pushed By Northwestern Indiana Lawmakers

Lawmakers in a northwest Indiana town are pushing for an ordinance that would ban the wearing of saggy, baggy pants in public places.

Those pushing for the ban in Merrillville, Ind., just south of Gary, say low-riding bottoms are inappropriate, the Northwest Indiana Times reports. Under the proposal, individuals caught wearing their pants more than 3 inches below the hip in public would be fined, but would not face criminal charges.

But not everyone is on board with the proposed ban. Town Councilman Ron Widing, according to the Associated Press, has concerns that the ordinance could be deemed unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Town Administrator Mike Fink claims other municipalities that have approved similar bans have not faced constitutional challenges.

Widing's concerns, however, appear valid. In 2008, a Florida judge ruled that a Riviera Beach, Fla., city ban on saggy pants, the violation of which resulted in one 17-year-old being jailed for a night, was unconstitutional. The American Civil Liberties Union and NAACP have both spoken out against such laws as having a disproportionate racial impact on African American men, inviting racial profiling and violating free speech.

Nevertheless, some cities and towns have, indeed successfully advanced such bans, including Lynwood and Sauk Village in suburban Chicago. In western Illinois last summer, Collinsville, located about 20 miles east of St. Louis, approved a baggy pants law because they were tired of "looking at people's underwear."

The Merrillville proposal was tabled Tuesday pending further review. If approved, the ban would be Indiana's first.

WATCH a report from one community group's as yet unsuccessful effort, launched last fall, to inspire a saggy pants ban in Chicago: