U.S. Judge Upholds Ohio's Strip Club Law

Tod Hunter
CLEVELAND — A federal judge has upheld Ohio laws banning strip club patrons from touching dancers and limiting hours for strip clubs that serve liquor.

A group of adult entertainment owners and the Buckeye Association of Club Executives, a trade group that represents cabarets and adult bookstores, had sued at U.S. District Court in October 2007 seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional.

Several Ohio cities and counties were named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Judge Solomon Oliver Jr., in a 45-page decision released yesterday, granted motions by local government attorneys to have the suit dismissed. Oliver found that the state law that bans exotic dancers and customers from touching each other does not violate 1st Amendment or other constitutional rights of the business owners. Oliver also upheld the state law that limits the hours of operation for adult clubs that serve liquor.

Oliver disagreed with claims from club owners that the ''no touch'' law violated freedom of speech guarantees, and also disagreed with arguments that the ban is overly broad and could be applied to ballet dancers or other mainstream theatrical performers.

''Indeed, there is no evidence before the court that musicals such as 'Hair' are characterized by an emphasis on specified sexual activities or anatomical areas,'' the judge wrote.