U.S. Judge Widens Doors to Porn Prosecution

TOPEKA, Kan. — In a move that could potentially make it easier for local governments to shut down adult retailers with zoning regulations, U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum ruled Thursday that officials in Dickinson County, Kan., had “compelling interest” when they enacted strict zoning laws against adult businesses earlier this year.

The decision effectively throws out a case brought by attorney John Michael Murray for Lion’s Den Adult Superstore, who argued the regulations were unconstitutional.

The case was a follow-up to an obscenity case brought against Lion’s Den, one of the nation’s largest adult retail chains, in September. Murray won that case on that grounds that the state’s obscenity law was unconstitutional, but the same argument failed to carry weight for Judge Lungstrum when it came to location restrictions.

Lungstrum said the ordinance case was a different story because of similar rulings from other cases, rejecting Murray’s claims that the regulations suppressed free expression.

“The ordinance makes some areas available for such stores while preserving the quality of life in the community at large,” Lungstrum wrote in his final ruling.

A county has the right to alleviate itself from the effects adult stores can have, according to Lungstrum, such as lower property values and the controversial notion that adult stores increase crime.

The Dickinson County ordinance prevents sexually oriented businesses from being within 1,200 feet of an interstate and requires them to close between midnight and 6 a.m, but Lion’s Den has operated a store along Interstate 70 east of Abilene since 2003.