Federal Court Rules Louisiana Dancers Can Strip at Age 18

Last June, the governor of Louisiana signed a law prohibiting strip clubs in the state from hiring dancers under the age of 21. According to an AP story in the Times-Picayune, a state senator said “the provision will help to fight human trafficking in Louisiana.”

In September, three dancers who were under 21 but over 18 who were working in strip clubs in New Orleans filed a lawsuit against the state alleging the new law violated their First Amendment rights. (See Strippers in Louisiana Sue State Over Their First Amendment Rights. The law was being enforced throughout the state but was put on hold in New Orleans.

Finally, six months later, according to CourthouseNews.com, a U.S. District Court judge has “temporarily” blocked the state from enforcing the law anywhere until the question of constitutionality is decided, as the current law “sweeps up a fair amount of constitutionally protected speech.” He also questioned the motives of the state in passing the law, noting that “the Louisiana legislature’s true animating forces behind Act No. 395 were paternalistic and moralistic concerns about how women under the age of 21 should live, not the goal of reducing the secondary effect of human trafficking.”

According to the website of Radio WWL.com, State Senator Ronnie Johns, who wrote the law, says he intends to rewrite the law to try again to get it passed.   But it’s likely a lost cause—every time dancers go to court over First Amendment rights, they win. For example, in Las Vegas in 2006, dancers won the right to allow touching between dancers and customers (see Las Vegas Strip Club Law.)

For more on strip club dancers and the law, see:

Oregon Dancers: Making Laws and Strip Club History

Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules in Favor of First Amendment Rights of Strip Club Dancers

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