Fed Appeals Court: Louisiana breasts-and-buttocks strip club law is clear enough

A federal appeals court panel clears the way for Louisiana to enforce its law setting a minimum age of 21 for exotic dancers in bars and nightclubs.

Louisiana’s Act 395, an amendment to two state laws which regulate strip clubs, restricts strip club dancing by people ages 18, 19, and 20, even though people 18 years and older are considered adults. It says “entertainers whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view” must be at least 21 years old.

The Act, which took effect in August of 2016, was immediately challenged by three dancers, all of whom are identified as “Jane Doe” plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The district court granted the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction staying enforcement of the amended laws, finding they had a substantial likelihood of prevailing in their claims that the Act is vague and overbroad.

As Gene Zorkin notes at YNOT

“The vagueness argument made by these plaintiffs is that they want to know precisely how much more of their bodies must be covered than dancers who are at least 21 years old are obliged to cover,” Southwick wrote for the appellate panel. “They want to wear the bare minimum, but the Constitution does not guarantee them that level of specificity. It is enough that the Act requires the full coverage of the breasts and buttocks. These are commonly understood anatomical terms. The State’s failure to define exactly where at the anatomical margins the bare minimum lies does not render the Act unconstitutionally vague on its face. Such an explanation, which would amount to ‘perfect clarity and precise guidance,’ is not required.”

While the same panel initially upheld the lower court’s ruling back in September, in rehearing the government’s appeal, circuit judges Leslie Southwick, Edith Brown Clement and Carl E. Stewart found that the Louisiana law was neither impermissibly vague or over broad; that the law is clear enough to pass constitutional muster.

The abrupt reversal was a defeat for three would-be strippers who were 18, 19 and 20 when they challenged the law last year. The three said the law infringed on their first amendment right to freedom of expression.

However, the court held that the Act doesn’t amount to a “total ban” on erotic dancing by individuals who are between 18 and 20 years old, because it “only applies to entertainers at alcohol-licensed establishments” in Louisiana.

307630cookie-checkFed Appeals Court: Louisiana breasts-and-buttocks strip club law is clear enough

Fed Appeals Court: Louisiana breasts-and-buttocks strip club law is clear enough

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