The judge said he also had a sheriff collect applications without ever approving or denying them, a kind of pocket veto with no appeal.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A law in Jacksonville requiring strip club dancers to require police-issued ID is unconstitutional because the sheriff’s office has too much control over who can dance, a federal judge ruled.
“If Jacksonville wants to impose a licensing requirement on artists in adult entertainment venues, the licensing process must adhere to each of the requirements set by the Supreme Court. The licensing provisions of the ordinance do not provide for this, ”US District Judge Timothy Corrigan wrote in an order that removed a system of identification cards approved by the city council last year.
The cards were part of a regulation aimed at preventing human trafficking in strip clubs, but within weeks 13 adult companies and four dancers were suing the city.
They argued that the cards could actually become work permits that could be arbitrarily issued or withheld because the city had not set clear rules.
Corrigan agreed, saying the ordinance lets a sheriff decide “as he or she chooses” on applications for the cards.
Since the courts consider dancing, even in a strip club, to be some kind of expression protected by free speech, the judge said that was too much power over a right guaranteed by the first amendment.
“This is expressly forbidden by … [a] long line of previous cases of reluctance, ”Corrigan wrote on Monday in a ruling that also found the ordinance violated the fourteenth amendment that guarantees equal protection under the law.
The judge said the ordinance also allowed a sheriff to collect applications without ever approving or denying them, a kind of pocket veto with no opportunity to appeal.
The judge also rejected requirements in the ordinance that dancers must be fingerprinted and prove that they are legally entitled to work.
The 59-page verdict left parts of the strip clubs’ lawsuit unresolved, including a language challenge that banned anyone under the age of 21 from dancing in the clubs. Eighteen is the standard limit anywhere else in Florida.
During an unjury trial during part of the lawsuit in September, city and club lawyers told the judge that they knew of no Florida counties where dancers were required to be over 18 years old, but Corrigan wrote that the subject was “Needs has more development. “
He said the attorneys could file pleadings on the matter when they deal with the remainder of the lawsuit, which had been split into two parts to hear arguments in support of the clubs’ requests for an injunction to cease enforcement of the regulation.
He wrote this week that while the city cannot enforce the areas he found unconstitutional, the rest of the ordinance would remain in effect while the case continued.
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