New LMC Memo Offers Guidance on Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses

Strip clubs, adult book stores, adult theaters, and other types of adult entertainment businesses can harm a community. Cities have found that adult entertainment businesses cause neighborhood blight; decreased property values; increased crime, especially prostitution; increased incidence of sexually transmitted diseases; and relocation of residents and businesses. A new League memo provides guidelines on regulating these types of businesses.

Clearly, cities have a significant interest in protecting the community from the negative secondary effects of adult entertainment businesses. However, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that adult literature, adult movies, and live nude dancing qualify as “speech” protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This protection complicates city regulation of adult entertainment businesses.

The First Amendment generally prohibits regulation of speech based on its content. City ordinances regulating adult entertainment businesses must serve a substantial government purpose unrelated to the content of the speech. As a result, city ordinances must focus on minimizing the negative secondary effects of adult entertainment businesses and not their erotic message.

So what can cities do to regulate adult entertainment businesses without violating the U.S. Constitution? In the League’s new information memo, Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses, you will learn how to effectively and constitutionally regulate adult entertainment businesses. You will learn how to use zoning and licensing ordinances to minimize the negative secondary effects of adult entertainment businesses on the community. And you will learn what types of adult entertainment business regulations are unconstitutional and should be avoided.

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