Connect with us

The Gaily Grind

Trump-Appointed Federal Judge Rules Tennessee’s Anti-Drag Show Law Is Unconstitutional

Drag Queen

Trump-Appointed Federal Judge Rules Tennessee’s Anti-Drag Show Law Is Unconstitutional

A federal judge has ruled that a Tennessee law banning drag shows in public or in places where children could view them is unconstitutional because it violates freedom of speech protections.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said in a 70-page late-Friday ruling that the law, which GOP Gov. Bill Lee signed in March, is both “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad.”

The law says an “adult cabaret performance” is unlawful if it happens on public property or in a location where the performance “could be viewed by a person who is not an adult.” It defines such a performance as one that is harmful to minors and includes topless dancers, “exotic” dancers, strippers and male or female impersonators.

Parker had imposed a preliminary injunction at the end of March to block the law from taking effect.

The judge agreed with Friends of George’s, a Memphis-based theater group that produces drag performances, comedy sketches and plays, that the state’s Adult Entertainment Act (AEA) could apply “just about anywhere.”

The theater group contended that the law would infringe on their freedom of speech and expose their members to potential felony charges over the shows that it has held for years. They also argued that the law is overly broad because it applies to minors of all ages and any location where a minor could be present.

Parker agreed with the argument, finding that the AEA was passed “for the impermissible purpose of chilling constitutionally-protected speech.”

“As a matter of text alone, the (Adult Entertainment Act) is a content, and viewpoint-based restriction on speech. The AEA was passed for the impermissible purpose of chilling constitutionally-protected speech,” he said.

“He ruled that the state has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, but the law is not the least restrictive nor most narrowly tailored way that it could accomplish this without violating free speech,” reports The Hill.

The Tennessee law, the first of its kind in the nation directly targeting drag shows, imposed a $2,500 fine and up to one year in prison for first-time violators.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill last month that, among other things, gives his administration the power to take away licenses from establishments if they allow children into an “adult live performance,” widely interpreted as a crackdown on drag shows.

“WE WON!” Friends of George’s wrote in a tweet Saturday. “Judge Parker has declared Tennessee’s anti-drag law unconstitutional!”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Drag Queen

Trending ✩

To Top