Missouri Supreme Court to Strip Club Owners: "Tough Titties!"

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Justices uphold Missouri's nudity ban for strip clubs.
The Missouri Supreme Court yesterday handed strip club owners yet another loss in their legal fight to overturn a sweeping law regulating "adult-oriented businesses."

The law passed in 2010 prohibits exotic dancers from displaying their genitals and most of their breasts, bans the sale of alcohol inside strip clubs and requires the businesses to close at midnight.

Adult bookstore and strip club operators have argued that the law violates freedom of expression under the First Amendment. The owners also claim that Missouri legislators didn't fully consider the fiscal impact that the bill would have on the economy -- with several adult-oriented businesses going out of business since the law went into effect.

In yesterday's 41-page ruling, the state's high court sided with a circuit court ruling last year that upheld the law. In its decision yesterday, the state's high court noted:
[T]his court finds that the restrictions are not content-based limitations on speech but rather are aimed at limiting the negative secondary effects of sexually oriented businesses on the health, welfare and safety of Missouri residents ... This Court also rejects the argument that any failure to follow statutory procedures governing preparation of a fiscal note amounts to a failure to follow the Missouri Constitution and thereby voids the legislation. The Missouri Constitution does not require fiscal notes or address how they should be prepared.
The strip club owners say they may appeal yesterday's ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Attorney General Chris Koster, whose office defended the state law, praised the verdict. "At the time the General Assembly passed this law in 2010," Koster said, "there was both state and federal legal precedent upholding provisions similar to those contained in the Missouri law, and a lower court agreed with our arguments. I'm pleased with the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the law and the will of the General Assembly."

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