Oregon Court Overturns Sex Show Laws
The Oregon Supreme Court today rules that live sex shows and nude dancers touching customers are both forms of free expression protected by the state constitution.
The Oregon Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional Thursday a state law against live sex shows and a local ordinance that says nude dancers must stay at least 4 feet away from patrons. Both restrictions violate the Oregon Constitution’s guarantee of free expression, the court said in a pair of 5-1 decisions.
Justice Michael Gillette, writing for the majority, said it “appears to us to be beyond reasonable dispute that the protection extends to the kinds of expression that a majority of citizens in many communities would dislike” – including nude dancing.
One case involved a Roseburg club where undercover police paid women to perform sexual activities while the officers watched. The court threw out the club owner’s conviction for promoting a live sex show but upheld his conviction for promoting prostitution.
In a dissent, Supreme Court Justice Paul De Muniz said he could not conclude that “masturbation and sexual intercourse in a `live public show'” is a form of speech that the drafters of the Oregon Constitution sought to protect.
One suspects Muniz is correct. Still, it’s difficult to see what harm is taking place in these clubs, presuming that the customers and performers are consenting adults.