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Court Strikes Down Pennsylvania’s “Lewd” Conduct Law
By: Carlos Martinez (Courtesy of
Posted: 8/16/2006

Philadelphia – A U.S. Appeals Court here has struck down a Pennsylvania law that bars “lewd” behavior at businesses that serve liquor.

The U.S. District Court of Appeals three-judge panel ruled that a state law which prohibits “any lewd, immoral or improper entertainment” at establishments that serve liquor “punishes a significant amount of protected speech,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The ruling comes after two exotic dancers, Gail Baker and Sabrina Barrar, were cited for performing wearing only high heels, G-strings and Latex pasties at Club Risque, a club located along the banks of the Delaware River here.

By law, statute violators would be charged with a misdemeanor and face a $5,000 fine and up to a year in prison as well as loss of the establishment’s liquor license, if convicted.

Lawyer J. Michael Murray, who represented the dancers, said his clients feared that their right to express themselves artistically had been compromised by the law, which dates back to the 1950s, according to city records.

John O.J. Shellenberger, the chief deputy Pennsylvania attorney general involved in the case, said that he was unsure how the ruling would impact enforcement of the law. Clubs are often cited for lewd entertainment, according to documents with the Liquor Control Board.


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