6th Circuit Appeals Court Upholds Strip Club Restrictions

KENTUCKY - The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Wednesday to uphold portions of a Kenton County adult entertainment ordinance restricting interaction between strippers and club patrons.

Passed in 2004, the ordinance requires dancers to stay five feet away from customers for one hour after leaving the stage. Club owners had challenged the law as a violation of free speech.

According to the Kentucky Post, Chief Judge Danny Boggs and Judge John M. Rogers upheld the on-site conduct regulations as "a legitimate effort to prevent prostitution."

Judge Eric L. Clay disagreed with the majority opinion, calling the rules "an unconstitutional prior restraint on protected speech."

Boggs and Rogers further ruled that the county is free to impose rules for the city of Covington that are even tougher than the existing municipal code, and dismissed claims that the ordinance does not allow adult businesses to file timely appeals.

While rejecting First Amendment arguments against the no-contact restriction, the appeals panel sent the case back to a lower court to review the constitutionality of exorbitant license application fees for adult clubs, entertainers and managers.

Judge Clay argued that the costs imposed by the ordinance are unconstitutional and discriminatory.

"[T]here is already evidence that the county used exorbitant cost estimates to justify levying high fees on license applicants and no countervailing evidence on the record to suggest that the amount of the fees are justifiable,'' he said.