Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Sex Store Case

Matt O'Conner
MARIETTA, Ga. – The U.S. Supreme Court this week refused to hear an appeal filed by owners of three adult entertainment stores shut down in 2003.

Representatives for stores Intersection, Starship and Water Pipe, had asked the court to overturn a decision by Marietta’s business license manager to revoke their permits for violating a city ordinance restricting the sale of sex toys.

While sexually explicit material is protected by the First Amendment, Georgia law prohibits the sale of sex toys. In addition, the city has an 11-page ordinance stipulating strict guidelines for products that can be sold at adult entertainment stores, including a restriction limiting “adult” items to 20 percent of a store’s stock.

The city’s decision to shut down the stores has survived three appeals, including one in the Georgia Supreme Court.

City officials hail the high court’s refusal to hear the case as evidence that the ordinance is airtight and say they expect other cities to use it as a template for their own.

But despite the court’s decision, Alan Berger, attorney for the three businesses, said shutting down the stores violates the rights of the store owners and Marietta citizens.

“Sex toys are illegal in Georgia but are sold widely because it’s a stupid law and nobody cares,” Berger said.

The Supreme Court’s refusal comes at a time when stores in other states are facing similar hostility from local officials. School board members in Daytona Beach, Fla., have petitioned the state attorney general’s office to remove an adult store they claim is located within a school zone, and a city planning board is fighting to prevent the opening of an adult video store in Westchester, N.Y.