With Unusual Speed For Legislation, Bill Banning ‘Upskirting’ Becomes Law

Updated at 1:14 p.m.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill banning the practice of secretly taking photographs up the skirts of women in public. That’s according to a statement Friday morning from the governor’s office.

State House and Senate lawmakers passed the legislation on Thursday. That action came one day after the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a man who took cellphone photos up the skirts of women riding the Boston subway did not violate the law.

Senate President Therese Murray says she was stunned and disappointed by the ruling.

“Women and children should be able to go to public places without feeling that they are not protected by the law. So this will at least bring us up to speed now but what technology comes in the future, we’ll need to stay on top of.”

The legislation would make taking the photographs a misdemeanor. Distributing them would be a felony.

While some bills languish for years on Beacon Hill, staffers worked furiously to craft this measure while lawmakers pushed it through without a public hearing.

“I don’t know if we could move much faster than this in the Legislature!” says House Speaker Robert Deleo.

The governor commented on the issue during a visit to Belchertown on Thursday morning.

“[The ruling] means we’re going to have to change the law, I think,” Patrick said. “Judges don’t have the job of interpreting the law the way they wish it was, but rather the way it is.”

New England Public Radio’s Henry Epp and Sam Hudzik contributed.