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Missouri Strip Club Law Struck Down
By: Eddie Adams (Courtesy of AVN.com)
Posted: 12/20/2006

Kansas City – The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a law banning nudity and imposing other restrictions on strip clubs violates the state constitution, according to a recently published report.

The court had already deemed the law unconstitutional in August 2005. The court’s decision was based on that fact that the law was tacked onto a bill toughening Missouri’s drunken-driving laws, and the state constitution requires legislation to deal with only one subject.

According to the Missouri Supreme Court, the strip club law constitutes “log-rolling,” which refers to the practice of gathering several matters in a single bill, in the hope of ensuring their passage.

According to Dan Margolies’ report for the Kansas City Star, the ruling last year was a victory for the adult entertainment industry and yet another setback for Missouri Sen. Matt Bartle, the Lee’s Summit Republican who sponsored the bill as well as other measures aimed at the adult entertainment industry.

Margolies’ report went on to say that the strip-club bill struck down Tuesday banned full nudity; required dancers to stay at least 10 feet from customers and behind a rail; barred dancers from touching customers; and required customers and dancers to be at least 21 years of age.

In striking down the law, Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan found that it violated both the Missouri Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.

“Like it or not,” Cole wrote, “nude dancing qualifying as expressive conduct is constitutionally protected activity falling within the outer perimeters of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Richard Bryant, a Kansas City attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the case, told the Kansas City Star that he never doubted Callahan’s decision would be upheld.

“We always felt comfortable with his decision and that it was far-reaching and correct not only on the dual-purpose issue but on the First Amendment issue,” he said. “Quite frankly, the fact that we have a unanimous Supreme Court decision is a pretty telling tale of how bad this legislation was.”

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