New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Dancers sue to overturn Louisiana strip club age requirements
Three dancers have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that a law requiring performers in strip clubs be at least age 21 is unconstitutional. The lawsuit comes about a week before state officials have said they’ll begin enforcing the new law in strip clubs statewide.
Identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe I, II and III, the three dancers say the law will rob them of the ability to express themselves with erotic dance, in violation of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.
They also claim the law unfairly targets women, citing a prohibition in state law that defines strip club performers as “entertainers whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view.” That definition, the dancers claim, applies only to women and “does not prohibit the same conduct by men” who are between the ages of 18 and 21.
Men don’t have breasts or buttocks? We have breasts, it’s just that ours are flat, at least for most of us.
Also, what’s with this linking physical anatomy to gender? We’ve lived under World War T long enough to know better. Otherwise, transphobia.
Much of the lawsuit takes aim at the idea that the law is gender discriminatory, which the dancers say is in violation of the Constitution’s equal protection law. Citing comments by legislators, the law seeks to bolster its gender discrimination argument by saying legislators knew the law was aimed at young women because state Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, and others said the law was aimed at protecting young women.
Maybe so, but I don’t see anything facially wrong with the law, at least not from this telling of it, that would sufficiently draw the ire of the Federal judiciary. And I don’t think that the paucity of actual or possible instances of disallowing 18-20 year old men from stripping is good enough for the plaintiffs.
A consistent argument among supporters of the bill during the legislative session was that it was designed to ensure that people under the age of 21 aren’t exposed to the lure of prostitution through adult nightclubs. The author of the bill, state Sen. Ronnie Johns, is quoted in the lawsuit as saying the bill is “strictly an anti-human trafficking bill.”
Politician named Johns wants to cut down on the lure of prostitution.
To look at this the other way, while I don’t think the law is facially penumbrally discriminatory such that it trips intermediate scrutiny, I also don’t think the defendants (the state) should ride into court with the “penumbral to human trafficking compelling public interest” argument hitched to their horses. Even if stripping is penumbral to prostitution, which it isn’t, prostitution is not penumbral to human trafficking. (Note: By “penumbral,” I mean in the legal-constitutional sense, not the sense of actual on-the-ground reality. Because in reality, there is a very slick conveyor belt between stripping, prostitution and human trafficking.)
That said, we know why this law was enacted. It’s because many politicians are the fathers of daughters, and it’s just an age old truism that fathers are defensive and protective of their daughters. It’s why middle aged men are weaponizing the Obama White House to in turn weaponize college administrators against college men with their kangaroo tribunals. Instead of middle aged men beating young men with sticks to stay away from their daughters, they’re now doing it vicariously using intermediaries.