Judge Won't Block Ohio Strip Club Law

Published: Aug. 9, 2008 at 12:59 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND (AP) - A federal judge on Friday denied a request to block an Ohio law approved last year that restricts dancers' performances at strip clubs and the hours of operation at adult book or video stores.

Business owners, who said the law was hurting business, sued after it took effect last fall, saying it was an unconstitutional violation of free speech.

U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. ruled against their motion for a preliminary order to block enforcement, finding that plaintiffs had not proved the law violates the rights of sexually oriented businesses in Ohio. He also ruled that the law doesn't significantly harm them.

"The businesses may still operate for the remaining 18 hours a day," Oliver wrote. "Therefore, (the law) is merely a reasonable regulation on the time, place and manner in which plaintiffs may exercise their First Amendment rights."

The statewide crackdown on sexually oriented businesses, pushed by a conservative Christian group and adopted by the Republican-controlled state Legislature in May 2007, was allowed to become law by Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland without his signature.

The law, which went into effect in October, prohibits touching between customers and nude or seminude dancers. It also halts nude dancing in strip clubs after midnight and prohibits adult bookstores and theaters from remaining open between midnight and 6 a.m.

The business owners' lawsuit remains open. Oliver has scheduled a case status conference for Aug. 21.