**Federal Judge Claims Tennessee’s Adult Cabaret Ban is Unconstitutional**
A federal judge has struck down Tennessee’s law prohibiting adult cabaret performances on the grounds of unconstitutionality, arguing that it violates free speech rights. The landmark decision could have far-reaching implications for similar laws governing public performances across the country.
In a controversial ruling, United States District Judge Thomas L. Parker stated that the Adult Entertainment Act (AEA), signed into law by Republican Governor Bill Lee in March, is an unconstitutional restriction on freedom of speech. He argued that the law, which criminalizes “adult cabaret entertainment” in public or in places where children could watch, lacks clarity and is too broad in its scope.
The AEA defines “adult cabaret entertainment” as performances containing nudity, sexual excitement, and similar content that could be harmful to minors. However, Judge Parker found fault with this definition, stating that it “applies to all ages” and fails to provide fair notice of what is prohibited, thus encouraging discriminatory enforcement. Furthermore, the judge expressed concern that the law could be used to chill constitutionally protected speech.
The lawsuit was brought forth by Friends of George’s, Inc, a nonprofit organization that produces drag-centric shows, comedy sketches, and plays. They argued that the law could potentially apply to their artistic performances and therefore infringe upon their First Amendment rights.
Judge Parker, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate in 2018, ultimately concluded that Tennessee did not meet its burden in ensuring that the AEA was narrowly tailored and the least restrictive means to advance the state’s interests in protecting minors.
This ruling has already sparked debate on the constitutionality of similar laws regulating adult performances across the country. Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti is expected to appeal the decision, setting the stage for further legal battles over the limits of free speech.
**The Future of Adult Entertainment Laws Remains Uncertain**
This impactful ruling on Tennessee’s Adult Entertainment Act could potentially change the landscape of laws surrounding public performances nationwide. With appeals likely to follow, the final verdict on the constitutionality of such restrictions remains to be seen.