Judge denies ‘erection’ for customers but hopes for ‘happy ending’ in stripper case
A federal judge with a sense of humor on Monday ruled that exotic dancers in San Antonio would have to wear bikini tops, but acknowledged that customers were seeking “an erection” of a constitutional wall with First Amendment protections and hoped that the parties could resolve their differences for a “happy ending.”
The San Antonio Express-News on Monday reported that Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery had denied a preliminary injunction sought by strip clubs in the case of the “itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini top vs. the (more) itsy bitsy teeny weeny pastie.”
The clubs filed a lawsuit earlier this year in opposition to a recently-amended city ordinance that forces dancers to wear larger coverings on their breasts or be treated as sexually oriented businesses (SOBs), which would face greater regulation. SOBs can’t operate near schools, churches or parks; employees would have to undergo background checks and the clubs would have to apply for new licenses.
“The court infers plaintiffs fear enforcement of the ordinance would strip them of their profits, affecting their bottom line,” Biery said in his ruling. “Conversely, the city asserts these businesses contribute to reduced property values, violent crime, increased drug sales, prostitution and other sex crimes and therefore need to be girdled more tightly.”
“Plaintiffs, and by extension their customers, seek an erection of a constitutional wall separating themselves from the regulatory power of city government.”
The judge said that he cold find no link between small nipple coverings — or pasties — and increased crime, but case law did not require a connection between “nudity and naughtiness” in order to regulate entertainers.
“Should the parties choose to string this case out to trial on the merits, the court encourages reasonable discovery to intercourse as they navigate the peaks and valleys of litigation, perhaps to a happy ending,” Biery concluded.