Houston Clubs Will Need Permit

The question: Can the city of Houston constitutionally require the operators of adult business to get special permits from the police chief? \n The answer: Yes, according to the Texas Court of Appeals for the 10th District. The Houston ordinance is legal because the police chief has to follow specific criteria and does not have discretion to deny permits if the criteria are met. \n The ruling was bad news for Charles Joseph Kaczmarek, manager of the nude adult lounge Le Bare, who had been arrested for operating an adult business without a permit. A jury found him guilty of the crime about two years ago. \n Kaczmarek said the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1988 case of City of Lakewood v. Plain Dealer Publishing Co., set a precedent that should make the Houston statute unconstitutional. In that case, the court ruled that a statute that gave a government official or agency "unbridled discretion" over the granting of a permit for conduct that has some First Amendment protection was, in effect, a prior restraint on free speech. \n The state appeals court rejected that argument. The court said Houston's law doesn't give the police chief discretion. He must go by nine distinct criteria, such as whether the business is located within 750 feet of a school. Those standards limit his discretion, the court said. \n Previously, another state court and a federal appeals court had upheld the ordinance against challenges that it interfered with free expression rights granted by the First Amendment. \n There has been no announcement of an appeal.