In his written opinion, Antoon said the local ordinances were based on “either anecdotal evidence or opinions based on highly unreliable data.”
Anti strip club legislation has often sought to establish a link between adult establishments and increased crime in the surrounding area. Such was the case of Daytona Beach vs. Lollipop's Gentleman's Club, which went to court in 2002 when lawyers for the city argued the infamous “secondary effects” clause against the club.
“This is a clear, resounding and unbelievable win for us,” Brett Hartley, Lollipop’s attorney, told local press Monday. “There is a difference between saying we don't like strip clubs and we don't want them and saying we don't want them because they cause crimes. The latter is acceptable, the former is not.”
Hartley had argued that the Daytona Beach ordinances did not meet the U.S. Supreme Court test that would allow restriction on free speech. Specifically, according to the high court, restrictions have to “further a substantial government interest” in order to be deemed constitutional.
In the case of the Lollipop Club, Antoon agreed with Hartley that the restriction test was not met by the city.
“Gone are the days when a municipality may enact an ordinance ostensibly regulating the secondary effects on the basis of evidence consisting of little more than the self-serving assertions of municipal officials,” Antoon said.
Although the ruling will enable Lollipop’s to continue serving alcohol, the club still faces legal recrimination from the city based on highly restrictive zoning ordinances that limit where an adult establishment can reside.
City officials have said they plan to appeal Antoon’s ruling.