The Penthouse Club Files Suit over Michigan Billboard Law

DETROIT—The owners of the Penthouse Club on Eight Mile in northwest Detroit filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday against Governor Rick Snyder, charging that a new law that restricts adult businesses from using images on billboards and signs is unconstitutional.

According to The Detroit News, the law only “affects adult businesses and requires logos on billboards to be registered as federal trademarks, which have their own restrictions on sexually explicit material.”

The club has a direct stake in the outcome of its suit. In 2008, it put a two-story sign on the side of its building featuring a blonde in a red dress. According to the News, “Neighbors have done battle for three years with Penthouse … staging several protests including one that ended last summer when picketers accused management of turning on lawn sprinklers to send them away.”

With fines up to $10,000 per violation, if the Penthouse lawsuit is unsuccessful, the blonde will surely have to come down.

"These speech restrictions are particularly egregious as the restriction is selectively imposed upon a target population," Penthouse lawyers wrote in their lawsuit.

According to State Sen. Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit), who supported the legislation, the lawsuit continues a pattern of behavior by the club that indicates its hostility to its neighbors. He also took the city to task for not enforcing a similar city law that was passed last year but was also challenged in court.

“It is painfully obvious that [the owners of the club] believe that anything goes in Detroit, and they refuse to cooperate with the community to maintain reasonable standards in the surrounding neighborhood," said Hunter. "Despite what they may believe, this community is not the 'red light district.'"